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Anik Bissonnette

Anik Bissonnette, OC, CQ, ballerina, arts administrator (born at Montréal 9 Feb 1962). Québec's best-known ballerina, Anik Bissonnette is renowned for her exceptional musicality, purity of line and extraordinary balances, and for using her technical assurance to plumb exciting emotional depths. After garnering wide acclaim in many performances with Louis Robitaille, she was a principal dancer at Les Grands Ballets Canadiens (LGBC) from 1989 to 2007 and made annual appearances at Montréal's Gala des Étoiles from 1983 until 2006. She was artistic director of the Festival des Arts de Saint-Sauveur from 2004 to 2014, and has been artistic director of the École supérière de ballet contemporain de Montréal since 2010. An Officer of the Order of Canada and a Chevalière of the National Order of Québec, she has received the Prix Denis Pelletier and the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Achievement.

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Steven Heighton

Steven Heighton, poet, novelist, essayist (born 14 August 1961 in Toronto, ON). Steven Heighton is 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 can 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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Group of Seven

The Group of Seven, also known as the Algonquin School, was a school of landscape painters. It was founded in 1920 as an organization of self-proclaimed modern artists and disbanded in 1933. The group presented the dense, northern boreal forest of the Canadian Shield as a transcendent, spiritual force. Their depictions of Canada’s rugged wind-swept forest panoramas were eventually equated with a romanticized notion of Canadian strength and independence. Their works were noted for their bright colours, tactile paint handling, and simple yet dynamic forms. In addition to Tom ThomsonDavid Milne and Emily Carr, the Group of Seven were the most important Canadian artists of the early 20th century. Their influence is seen in artists as diverse as abstract painter Jack Bush, the Painters Eleven, and Scottish painter Peter Doig.

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Brian Law

Brian (John Taylor) Law. Conductor, organist, harpsichordist, b London 14 Apr 1943; LRAM 1963, FRCO 1963, ARSCM 1973. Moving to Canada in 1965, Law became conductor of Ottawa's St.

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Johnny Holmes

Johnny (John Joseph Harold) Holmes. Trumpeter, bandleader, arranger, composer, b Montreal 8 Jun 1916, d there 11 Jun 1989. He began playing cornet at 10 and studied briefly with C. Van Camp. After playing trumpet 1940-1 in a co-operative band, the Escorts, he took over its leadership 1941-50.

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Chilliwack (band)

The Vancouver rock band Chilliwack produced some of the most enduring Canadian rock songs of the 1970s and early 1980s, including “Lonesome Mary,” “Fly at Night,” and “My Girl (Gone Gone Gone).” Their catchy, easygoing hooks and bright, melodic style were distinguished by the soaring falsetto and tasteful guitar playing of lead singer and principal songwriter Bill Henderson. In 18 years (1970–88), Chilliwack released 11 albums, four of which were certified platinum in Canada. They also had 19 Canadian singles. The band moved in an increasingly commercial direction through varying styles — from psychedelic, progressive and country rock to adult contemporary and pop rock. They endured multiple changes in labels and band members before achieving success in the United States. The band was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 2019.

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Maestro Fresh Wes

Wesley Williams (a.k.a. Maestro Fresh Wes, Maestro), rapper, actor, author, motivational speaker (born 31 March 1968 in Toronto, ON). A pioneering hip-hop recording artist, Maestro Fresh Wes is often regarded as the “godfather of Canadian hip hop.” His debut album, Symphony in Effect (1989), was the first album by a Black Canadian artist to be certified platinum in Canada. It yielded the hit single “Let Your Backbone Slide,” one of the most successful and influential Canadian songs of all time. In 2019, it became the first rap song to be inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame. Maestro has been nominated for 13 Juno Awards and won two, including the inaugural award for Rap Recording of the Year in 1991. He was named No. 1 on CBC Music’s 2013 list of the greatest Canadian rappers. He has become a successful actor, author and motivational speaker while remaining a prominent figure in Canadian hip hop.

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Dany Laferrière

Dany Laferrière, né Windson Kléber, novelist, essayist, poet and journalist (born 13 April 1953 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti). Winner of the prestigious Prix Medicis and the first Haitian, Canadian and Québécois to be elected to the Académie française, Laferrière has established himself as one of the premiere chroniclers of the immigrant experience and one of the finest novelists of his generation.

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Clement Virgo

Clement Virgo, director, producer, writer (b at Montego Bay, Jamaica 1 June 1966). Clement Virgo came with his family to Canada in 1977 and attended West Preparatory Public School in north Toronto before the family moved to Regent Park, the city's largest public-housing estate, known for its troubles with drugs and crime.

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Portia White

Portia May White, contralto, teacher (born 24 June 1911 in Truro, NS; died 13 February 1968 in Toronto, ON). Portia White was the first Black Canadian concert singer to win international acclaim. She was considered one of the best classical singers of the 20th century. Her voice was described by one critic as “a gift from heaven.” She was often compared to the celebrated African American contralto Marian Anderson. The Nova Scotia Talent Trust was established in 1944 specifically to enable White to concentrate on her professional career. She was named a “person of national historic significance” by the Government of Canada in 1995.

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Oliver Jones

Oliver Theophilus Jones, OC, CQ, pianist, organist, composer, arranger (born 11 September 1934 in Montreal, QC). A musical prodigy, Oliver Jones is one of the best-known and most talented Canadian jazz pianists of all time. He studied piano in his youth with Daisy Peterson Sweeney, sister of Oscar Peterson, and spent much of his career working in pop and variety settings. Jones drew critical notice for his technical dexterity and rollicking swing, often eliciting comparisons to Peterson. He received Félix Awards in 1989, 1994, 2007 and 2008, and Juno Awards in 1986 and 2009. He is an Officer of the Order of Canada and a Knight of the Ordre national du Québec.

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Jennifer Holness

Jennifer Holness, producer, screenwriter, director (born 1969 in Montego Bay, Jamaica). Jennifer Holness is the president and co-founder of Hungry Eyes Film & Television, which specializes in telling stories that engage with social issues and representations of Black Canadians. Her credits as producer include the award-winning Love, Sex, and Eating the Bones (2003), Home Again (2012), the Gemini Award-winning miniseries Guns (2009) and the award-winning feature documentary Stateless (2020).

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Priscila Uppal

Priscila Uppal, FRSC, poet, novelist, playwright, professor (born 30 October 1974 in Ottawa, ON; died 5 September 2018 in Toronto, ON). Dubbed “Canada’s coolest poet,” Priscila Uppal was a politically pointed voice in contemporary Canadian poetry. Her writing addressed issues surrounding women, violence, sexuality, culture, religion, illness and loss. Her works were shortlisted for the Griffin Poetry Prize and a Governor General’s Literary Award. She was named the Canadian Athletes Now Fund poet-in-residence for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics and Paralympics, and the 2012 Summer Olympics and Paralympics in London, England. She also taught creative writing and English literature at York University.

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Kay Livingstone

Kathleen (Kay) Livingstone (née Jenkins), organizer and activist, broadcaster, actor (born 13 October 1919 in London, ON; died 25 July 1975). Kay Livingstone founded the Canadian Negro Women’s Association in 1951 and organized the first National Congress of Black Women in 1973. An established radio broadcaster and actor, Livingstone also devoted a great deal of her life and energy to social activism and organizing. Her tireless work to encourage a national discussion around the position of racialized people in society, particularly Black women, led Livingstone to coin the term visible minority in 1975.

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Pitikwahanapiwiyin (Poundmaker)

Pitikwahanapiwiyin (Poundmaker), Cree chief (born circa 1842 in central SK; died 4 July 1886 in Blackfoot Crossing, AB). Remembered as a great leader, Pitikwahanapiwiyin strove to protect the interests of his people during the negotiation of Treaty 6. Considered a peacemaker, he did not take up arms in the North-West Resistance. However, a young and militant faction of his band did participate in the conflict, resulting in Pitikwahanapiwiyin’s arrest and imprisonment for treason. His legacy as a peacemaker lives on among many Cree peoples, including the Poundmaker Cree Nation in Saskatchewan.

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King Ganam

King (Ameen Sied) Ganam. Fiddler, composer, b Swift Current, Sask, of Syrian-American parents, 9 Aug 1914, d Carlsbad, California, 26 Apr 1994. At first taught by oldtime fiddlers in his hometown, Ganam played for dances at nine and on CHWC radio, Regina, at 13. Later, his formal teachers were W.