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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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Marguerite Gignac

Marguerite Marie Gignac, soprano, teacher (born 17 July 1928 in Windsor, ON; died 4 May 2022 in Maplewood, Minnesota). Artist Diploma (RCMT) 1951, DMA (Michigan) 1989. She studied 1939-48 at the Music School of the Ursulines in Windsor and then enrolled at the RCMT, where she worked with Ernesto Vinci; during the summers 1950-2 she was a pupil of Edith Piper at the Juilliard School in New York. She was organist 1943-7 at Sacré-Coeur Church in LaSalle, Ont.

Article

Robert Service

Robert William Service, poet, novelist (b at Preston, Eng 16 Jan 1874; d at Lancieux, France 11 Sept 1958). Educated in Scotland, Service worked in a bank after he left school. In 1894 he immigrated to Canada, where, after

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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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Grant Allen

Charles Grant Blairfindie Allen, writer, historian, scientist (born 24 February 1848 in Alwington, ON; died 25 Oct 1899 in London, England). Grant Allen spent most of his youth in Canada, and completed his formal education in France and England, where he graduated from Merton College, Oxford, in 1871.