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Pauline Johnson (Tekahionwake)

Emily Pauline Johnson (a.k.a. Tekahionwake, “double wampum”) poet, writer, artist, performer (born 10 March 1861 on the Six Nations Reserve, Canada West; died 7 March 1913 in VancouverBC). Pauline Johnson was one of North America’s most notable entertainers of the late 19th century. A mixed-race woman of Mohawk and European descent, she was a gifted writer and poised orator. She toured extensively, captivating audiences with her flair for the dramatic arts. Johnson made important contributions to Indigenous and Canadian oral and written culture. She is listed as a Person of National Historic Significance and her childhood home is a National Historic Site and museum. A monument in Vancouver’s Stanley Park commemorates her work and legacy. In 2016, she was one of 12 Canadian women in consideration to appear on a banknote. (See Women on Canadian Banknotes.)

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30 Canadian Painters

To celebrate its 30th anniversary, The Canadian Encyclopedia created 30 lists of 30 things that make us proud to be Canadian, from famous people and historic events, to iconic foods and influential artists.

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Sun Dance

The Sun Dance (also Sundance) is an annual sacred ceremony performed by several First Nations in the Prairies. (See also Plains Indigenous Peoples in Canada.) The Sun Dance reaffirms spiritual beliefs about the universe. The Sun Dance was forbidden under the Indian Act of 1895, but this ban was generally ignored and dropped from the Act in 1951. Some communities continue to celebrate the ceremony today. (See also Religion and Spirituality of Indigenous Peoples in Canada.)

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Steven Heighton

Steven Heighton, poet, novelist, essayist (born 14 August 1961 in Toronto, ON; died 19 April 2022 in Kingston, ON). Steven Heighton was known for his award-winning poetry and bestselling fiction. His collection of poetry The Waking Comes Late (2016) won the Governor General’s Award while his novels The Shadow Boxer (2000) and Every Lost Country (2010) were national bestsellers. An accomplished writer who could move fluidly between poetry and prose, Heighton’s work has been praised for its exploration of place, culture and politics and has been translated into ten languages.  

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Marcelle Ferron

Marcelle Ferron, OQ, artist (born 29 January 1924 in Louiseville, QC; died 18 November 2001 in Montreal). Marcelle Ferron was an active participant in Les Automatistes, led by Paul-Émile Borduas. She pursued an innovative artistic career including noteworthy public art works in stained glass. She was made a Knight of the National Order of Québec in 1985 and was promoted to Grand Officer in 2000. She was the sister of writers Jacques Ferron and Madeleine Ferron.

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Serena Ryder

Serena Ryder, singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, mental health advocate (born 8 December 1982 in Millbrook, ON). Folk-rock singer-songwriter Serena Ryder is known for her raspy, soulful vocals and raw, emotional lyrics. She first gained attention with her gold-certified albums If Your Memory Serves You Well (2006) and Is It O.K. (2008). She won the Juno Award for New Artist of the Year in 2008 and achieved international stardom with her fifth album, Harmony (2012), and her smash hit “Stompa,” which went triple platinum in Canada. She has won a Canadian Screen Award, a MuchMusic Video Award, a SOCAN Award and seven Juno Awards, including Artist of the Year and Songwriter of the Year in 2014. She received the Allan Slaight Music Impact Honour from Canada’s Walk of Fame in 2021.

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Coeur de pirate

Béatrice Martin (a.k.a. Cœur de pirate), writer, composer, singer, lyricist, pianist (born 22 September 1989, in Montreal, QC). Winner of several Félix Awards, including New Artist of the Year in 2009 and Most Famous Quebec Artist outside Quebec in 2012, Cœur de pirate has made their mark with the Quebec public and French. After the release of their bilingual album Roses in 2015, Cœur de pirate's fame spread across English-speaking Canada, the United States and several European countries.

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Shawn Mendes

Shawn Peter Raul Mendes, singer, songwriter, model, mental health advocate (born 8 August 1998 in Pickering, ON). Pop phenom Shawn Mendes followed in the footsteps of earlier Canadian pop music star Justin Bieber, building a following online in his teens before signing with a major label. Mendes is the only artist to have four No. 1 singles on the Adult Pop Songs chart before the age of 20. Released when he was 16, his first full-length studio album, Handwritten (2015), debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and quickly went platinum in the US. In fact, his first four albums all debuted at No. 1. Together they have sold more than 4 million copies in the US, while Mendes’s singles have sold more than 13 million copies. He has received 13 Juno Awards and 20 SOCAN Awards, as well as three Grammy Award nominations.

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Nelly Furtado

Nelly Furtado. Singer, songwriter, b Victoria, BC, 2 Dec 1978. Furtado grew up in a working-class Portuguese household, and the sounds of her ethnic heritage had a strong influence on her even when she was listening to hip-hop, pop, dance, R&B, rock, Brazilian and Indian music.

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Guido Nincheri

Guido Nincheri, stained glass artist (b at Prato, Italy on 29 Sept 1885; d at Providence, Rhode Island on 1 Mar 1973), was possibly the most prolific religious artist in Canada during the 20th century. His stained glass and decorative work graces innumerable churches across the country as well as many New England states.

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Nino Ricci

Nino Ricci, novelist (b at Leamington, Ont 1959). Nino Ricci was born and grew up in Leamington, Ont, the new Canadian home of his Italian immigrant parents. His university studies took him to York University, Concordia University, and the University of Florence. Ricci has taught literature and creative writing, and was the Writer-in-Residence at the University of Windsor in 2005-06. He has also served as president of PEN Canada.

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Drew Hayden Taylor

Drew Hayden Taylor, playwright, broadcaster, writer (born 1 July 1962 in Curve Lake First Nation near Peterborough, ON). Drew Hayden Taylor is a leading Indigenous playwright and humorist. His award-winning plays have been produced in Canada, the United States, and Europe. His novels have been nominated for several awards, including the Governor General’s Award for fiction. He has also written numerous scripts for television series including The Beachcombers, North of 60, and Mixed Blessings. Taylor’s writings have significantly contributed to Indigenous literature in Canada. (See also Influential Indigenous Authors in Canada.)

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Deborah Cox

Deborah Cox, singer, songwriter, actor (born 13 July 1974 in Toronto, ON). One of Canada’s top R&B artists, Deborah Cox is known for her powerful, soulful voice and sultry ballads. “Nobody’s Supposed to Be Here,” from her second album, One Wish (1998), set a record as the longest-running No. 1 R&B single in the US, staying atop the Billboard R&B Singles chart for 14 weeks. She has had six top 20 Billboard R&B singles and 13 No. 1 hits on Billboard’s Dance Club Songs chart. She has received multiple Juno Awards and Grammy Award nominations and has appeared as an actor in film and television and on Broadway. In 2022, she became the first Black woman and only the second Black Canadian (after Oscar Peterson) to be inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.

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Elliot Page

Elliot Page (born Ellen Philpotts-Page), actor, activist, producer (born 21 February 1987 in Halifax, NS). Elliot Page is a serious, soulful and intelligent actor, and one of Canada’s biggest movie stars. A seasoned child performer, Page started out in Canadian feature films and TV series, winning two Gemini Awards by the age of 18. Page’s intense performance in the American indie Hard Candy (2005) led to high-profile roles in X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) and the indie smash Juno (2007). Juno earned Page an Independent Spirit Award and an Oscar nomination. Adept at quirky comedy (Whip It, Super), intimate drama (Marion Bridge, Mouth to Mouth) and big-budget blockbusters (Inception, the X-Men franchise), Page is equally well-known for environmental activism, advocacy for LGBTQ rights and a grounded, socially-conscious persona.

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Susan Jacks

Susan Elizabeth Jacks (nee Pesklevits), singer, songwriter (born 19 August 1948 in Saskatoon, SK; died 25 April 2022 in Surrey, BC). Susan Jacks was the second Canadian woman (after Lucille Starr) to earn a gold record in the US, for "Which Way You Goin' Billy." The song earned her and her first husband, Terry Jacks, two Juno Awards in 1970. Three solo Juno nominations followed, as did a Grammy Award nomination for a children's song. Susan Jacks was inducted into the BC Entertainment Hall of Fame in 2010.

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Fabienne Larouche

Fabienne Larouche, (born Saint-André-du Lac-Saint-Jean, QC, 26 Oct 1958- ) A native of Lac-Saint-Jean, Fabienne Larouche grew up in Sainte-Thérèse on the outskirts of Montréal. She quickly discovered that her chosen career of teaching (like her mother and maternal grandmother) did not suit her.

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Xavier Dolan

Xavier Dolan (born Xavier Dolan-Tadros), CM, actor, director, writer, producer, editor, costume designer (born 20 March 1989 in Montreal, QC). A precocious practitioner of auteurist art cinema, Xavier Dolan garnered international acclaim at age 20 for his debut feature, J’ai tué ma mère (I Killed My Mother, 2009). His next four award-winning films — Les amours imaginaires (Heartbeats, 2010), Laurence Anyways (2012), Tom à la ferme (Tom at the Farm, 2013) and Mommy (2014) — were completed by the time he was 25. His sixth movie, Juste la fin du monde (It’s Only the End of the World, 2016), won the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival and six Canadian Screen Awards. Dolan has also directed notable music videos for Adele and won a 2022 Juno Award for “Easy On Me.” He was made a Member of the Order of Canada in 2019.

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Tomson Highway

Tomson Highway, OC, playwright, novelist, pianist and songwriter (born 6 December 1951 in northwestern Manitoba). Highway is one of the most prominent and influential Indigenous writers in Canada. His works discuss and explore important issues affecting First Nations people, including residential schools, reserve life, Indigenous identity and more. Highway is an Officer of the Order of Canada and in 1998 was named one of the 100 most important people in Canadian history by Maclean’s. Tomson received the Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement at the Governor General's Performing Arts Awards in 2022. (See also Influential Indigenous Writers in Canada.)