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Article

Aiyyana Maracle

Aiyyana Maracle, multidisciplinary Haudenosaunee artist, performer, storyteller and educator (born 25 November 1950 on Six Nations of the Grand River, ON; died there, 24 April 2016). An Indigenous transgender woman, Maracle created art that focused on the decolonization of gender. Her work received critical acclaim and was widely inspirational. She is believed to have been the first Indigenous woman to have received the John Hirsch Prize. This is a prestigious national award for emerging directors in Canadian theatre.

Article

Thomas Watson Kirkconnell

Thomas Watson Kirkconnell, university professor and administrator (born 16 May 1895 in Port Hope, ON; died 26 February 1977 in Wolfville, NS). A professor of English and Classics, Kirkconnell became one of Canada’s most prolific translators and the recipient of honours both at home and abroad. He was a founding member of the Humanities Research Council of Canada (now the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada). An early cultural pluralist, Kirkconnell promoted the tolerance and celebration of European cultures in Canada, a diversity he described using the tapestry metaphor.

Article

Vivine Scarlett

Vivine Scarlett, dancer, choreographer, administrator (born in London, United Kingdom). Vivine Scarlett is the founder, executive director and curator of dance Immersion, a Toronto-based organization that produces, presents and supports dancing of the African diaspora. She is also an award-winning choreographer and a renowned instructor. Scarlett has received a K.M. Hunter Artist Award for dance from the Ontario Arts Foundation, the Muriel Sherrin Award from the Toronto Arts Foundation and a Lifetime Achievement Award from Dance Ontario.

Article

Robin Poitras

Robin Poitras, CM, dancer, teacher, choreographer, administrator (born 1958 in Regina, SK). Robin Poitras is the co-founder and artistic and managing director of Regina-based New Dance Horizons. It is one of Canada’s most successful and groundbreaking contemporary dance organizations. It has played a crucial role in the development of contemporary dance in Saskatchewan since the mid-1980s. Poitras has received a YWCA Women of Distinction Award for the Arts, as well as lifetime achievement awards from the Regina Mayor’s Arts and Business Awards and the Saskatchewan Arts Board. She was made a Member of the Order of Canada in 2021.

Article

Freda Diesing

Freda Diesing, Haida artist (born 2 June 1925 in Prince Rupert, BC; died there 3 December 2002). Diesing was best known for her contributions to reviving traditional Haida art forms, including wood carving, mask carving and totem carving. She was one of the few women carvers who mastered the medium, and was partly responsible for bringing the style to an international audience. Diesing worked to ensure the style and tradition of Haida art was passed on to new generations. (See also Northwest Coast Indigenous Art and Contemporary Indigenous Art in Canada.)

Article

Norval Morrisseau

Norval Morrisseau (called Miskwaabik Animiiki in Anishinaabemowin, meaning “Copper Thunderbird”), CM, artist (born 14 March 1931 or 1932 in Northern Ontario; died 4 December 2007 in Toronto, ON). Morrisseau was a self-taught artist of Ojibwe ancestry. He is best known for originating the Woodland School style in contemporary Indigenous art. His deep spirituality and cultural connections guided his career, which spanned five decades. Morrisseau is considered a trailblazer for contemporary Indigenous artists across Canada.

Article

Carl Ray

Carl Ray, Cree artist, illustrator, editor and art teacher (born January 1943 in Sandy Lake, ON; died 26 September 1978 in Sioux Lookout, ON). Ray was known for his innovative paintings in the Woodlands style and was a founding member of the Indian Group of Seven. Ray’s work has influenced Indigenous art in Canada and can be found in the collections of various galleries and museums across the country.

Article

Joseph Sánchez

Joseph Marcus Sánchez, artist, curator (born 24 February 1948 in Trinidad, Colorado, United States). In 1970, Joseph Sánchez travelled to Canada, settling in Richer, Manitoba. He became a founding member of Professional Native Indian Artists Inc., known widely as the Indian Group of Seven. Sánchez remained in Canada until 1975-76, leaving a lasting impact on the recognition and exposure of First Nations art and artists. Sánchez went on to become a community elder and political activist. He has worked as a museum director and curator for major galleries and exhibitions. His artwork has been exhibited extensively in Canada, the United States and Europe, and he has provided essays for a number of exhibition catalogues.

Article

Professional Native Indian Artists Inc., or the “Indian Group of Seven”

The Professional Native Indian Artists Inc. (PNIAI) was one of the first independently organized, self-managed Indigenous artists’ collectives and cultural advocacy groups in Canada. It was established in the early 1970s in Winnipeg, Manitoba. PNIAI consisted of seven independent Indigenous painters, Jackson Beardy, Eddy Cobiness, Alex Janvier, Norval Morrisseau, Daphne Odjig, Carl Ray and Joseph Sanchez.

Though diverse in their painting styles and cultural backgrounds, the founders of PNIAI were united in their determination to advocate for inclusion, recognition, and equal access to art funding. PNIAI has had a formative and enduring influence on the development of contemporary Indigenous art practice, its critical acceptance and public appreciation. PNIAI initiated an era of increasing activism and empowerment for artists and cultural workers of Indigenous ancestry across the country. PNIAI’s efforts paved the way for later arts organizations such as the Society of Canadian Artists of Native Ancestry and the Aboriginal Curatorial Collective. It also helped broaden national awareness of contemporary Indigenous art in Canada.

Article

Eddy Cobiness

Eddy “Doc” Cobiness, Ojibwe (Anishinaabe) artist (born 17 July 1933 in Warroad, Minnesota, United States; died 1 January 1996 in Winnipeg, MB). He was a founding and eminent member of Professional Native Indian Artists Inc., known widely as the Indian Group of Seven. Cobiness’s artwork was featured in many prominent collections, including those of Queen Elizabeth II, former Canadian prime minister Jean Chrétien and Academy Award-winning actor Charlton Heston. Influenced by Pablo Picasso, Cobiness worked in many mediums, including ink, watercolour, oil and acrylic, and his stylized brush strokes were referred to as “flowing.” Cobiness’s artwork often depicted animals and the natural world.

Article

Christina Petrowska Quilico

Christina Elena Petrowska Quilico (nee Petrowska), CM, O.Ont, FRSC, pianist, teacher, author, graphic artist (born 30 December 1948 in Ottawa, ON). Christina Petrowska Quilico is one of Canada’s most celebrated pianists. Equally adept at Classical, Romantic and contemporary repertoires (though best known for the latter), she is also a noted champion of Canadian composers, particularly Ann Southam. Petrowska Quilico taught piano and musicology at York University from 1987 until 2022, when she was named Professor Emerita, Senior Scholar. She has been appointed to the Order of Canada, the Order of Ontario and the Royal Society of Canada.

Article

Corrine Hunt

Corrine Hunt, Kwakwaka'wakw/Tlingit artist (born in 1959 in Alert BayBC). Hunt is a respected artist who has created hand-crafted jewelry, accessories, art installations and furniture. In 2010, she co-designed the Vancouver Winter Olympic medals. Hunt is a strong and vocal supporter of the arts. In addition to her own work, she mentors other artists and strives to promote the traditional art of Northwest Coast Indigenous peoples. Her unique designs and art installations showcase her personal history as well as her cultural heritage.

Article

Canada’s Walk of Fame

Canada’s Walk of Fame is a non-profit organization dedicated to honouring Canadians who have achieved excellence in the fields of arts and entertainment, science and technology, business, philanthropy and athletics. Modelled after the Hollywood Walk of Fame, it stretches along 13 city blocks in Toronto’s Entertainment District. Each inductee’s name and signature are etched onto a plaque embedded on the sidewalk, along with a star resembling a maple leaf. Inductees are honoured at an annual, nationally broadcast gala in Toronto. More than 210 people have been inducted since the Walk was founded in 1998.

Article

Allan Slaight

John Allan Slaight, CM, media mogul, philanthropist, reporter, broadcaster, magician (born 19 July 1931 in Galt, ON; died 19 September 2021 in Toronto, ON). After briefly working as a magician, Allan Slaight started his career as a radio reporter. He quickly rose through the ranks and bought his first radio station before his 40th birthday. By the time he sold his holdings to Astral Media for $1.08 billion in 2007, the media magnate had amassed more than 50 radio stations and a pair of TV stations. He also owned the Toronto Raptors and was a notable philanthropist, with numerous awards now named in his honour. Slaight was made a Member of the Order of Canada and has a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame.

Article

Jackie Shane

Jackie Shane, singer (born 15 May 1940 in Nashville, Tennessee; died 22 February 2019 in Nashville). Jackie Shane was a pioneering transgender performer who was a prominent figure in Toronto’s R&B scene in the 1960s. Her cover of William Bell’s “Any Other Way” reached No. 2 on the CHUM singles chart in 1963. Her 1967 live album, Jackie Shane Live, was reissued in 2015 and was shortlisted for the Polaris Music Prize’s 1960–1970 Heritage Award. Any Other Way, an anthology album of songs from Shane’s career and monologues from her live shows, was released in 2017. It was nominated for a 2019 Grammy Award for Best Historical Album. Shane is featured in a public mural in downtown Toronto commemorating the Yonge Street music scene of the 1960s.

Article

Freda Ahenakew

​Freda Ahenakew, OC, Cree scholar, author (born 11 February 1932 on Ahtahkakoop First Nation, SK; died 8 April 2011 at Muskeg Lake First Nation, SK). Ahenakew is recognized as a leader in the acknowledgment and revitalization of the Cree language in Canada. In her life, Ahenakew helped to preserve the oral traditions of the Cree people and share Cree traditions and stories with Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples alike. (See also Indigenous Language Revitalization in Canada.)

Article

Malak Karsh

Armenian-Canadian photographer Malak Karsh was best known for his photographs of Canada, and of the Ottawa region in particular. His 1963 photograph of a tugboat bringing logs up the Ottawa River, with the Library of Parliament in the background, was featured on the reverse of the $1 banknote first issued in 1974. Karsh amassed perhaps the most comprehensive visual record of Canada in existence. He also founded the Ottawa Tulip Festival and was the younger brother of famed photographer Yousuf Karsh.

Article

Lise Watier

Lise Watier, (born Montréal, 1942). A pampered only child, Lise Watier was always interested in feminine beauty and made it her life's work. During the 1980s she began her Québec radio and television career by hosting women's programmes.

Article

Markoosie Patsauq

Markoosie Patsauq, Inuk writer, pilot, community leader (born 24 May 1941 near Inukjuak [then Port Harrison], QC; died 8 March 2020 in Inukjuak, QC). The life of Markoosie Patsauq intersected dramatically with many of the most significant events affecting Inuit in 20th century Canada. He survived upheaval and trauma, both collective and individual, and went on to be the first Inuk and the first Indigenous person in Canada to publish a novel. Uumajursiutik unaatuinnamut, or Hunter with Harpoon, appeared serially in 1969–70 in Inuktitut and then as an English adaptation in late 1970. Patsauq’s writing career spanned many decades and included fiction as well as essays on topics ranging from his flying career to his experiences of colonization and injustice. (See also Influential Indigenous Authors in Canada.)

Article

Jean Lapointe

Jean-Marie Lapointe, OCOQ, singer, songwriter, comedian, actor, politician (born 6 December 1935 in Price, QC, died 18 November 2022 in Montreal, QC). As a cabaret performer for more than three decades, Jean Lapointe embodied the traditional American-style show in French with a balance of tragicomic songs, good-natured humour, impersonations and comedy sketches. From 1955 to 1974, he performed with Jérôme Lemay as the duo Les Jérolas. A prolific singer-songwriter, Lapointe recorded hundreds of songs, including the popular hits “Pleurire,” “Chante-la ta chanson,” “Rire aux larmes” and “Mon oncle Edmond.” Also a Genie- and Jutra Award-winning actor, he appeared in the classic films Les Ordres (1974) and J.A. Martin, photographe (1977), and played Maurice Duplessis in a popular TV mini-series. He served as a Liberal Senator from 2001 until 2010, and has been named to the Order of Canada and the Ordre National du Quebec.