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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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Jean Cuthand Goodwill

Jean Cuthand Goodwill, OC, nurse, public servant and Indigenous health and education advocate (born 14 August 1928 on the Poundmaker Cree Nation, SK; died 25 August 1997 in Regina, SK). Cuthand Goodwill was one of the first Indigenous registered nurses in Canada. In 1974, she cofounded Indian and Inuit Nurses of Canada (now known as the Canadian Indigenous Nurses Association). She was a lifelong organizer, writer and educator who promoted First Nations health and culture.

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Basil H. Johnston

Basil H. Johnston, Anishinaabe (Ojibwa) author, linguist, and teacher (born 13 July 1929 on Wasauksing First Nation, ON; died 8 September 2015 in Wiarton, ON).

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Dan George

Dan George, OC, Tsleil-Waututh actor, poet, public speaker (born 24 July 1899 on the Burrard Indian Reserve No. 3 in BC; died 23 September 1981 in North Vancouver, BC). By his film roles and personal appearances, Dan George helped improve the popular image of Indigenous people, often represented in stereotypical ways.

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Joane Cardinal-Schubert

Joane Cardinal-Schubert, RCA, artist (born 1942 in Red Deer, AB; died 16 September 2009 in Calgary, AB). Award-winning Kainaiwa (Blood) artist Joane Cardinal-Schubert was also a successful and influential curator, lecturer, poet and director of video and Indigenous theatre. Her artworks and writing often addressed contemporary political issues such as Indigenous sovereignty, cultural appropriation and environmental concerns. She supported other Indigenous artists as a curator and activist, while also questioning methods of displaying historical and contemporary Indigenous artworks. She was a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts and a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal, the Commemorative Medal of Canada and the National Aboriginal Achievement Award in Art.

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Lionel Kearns

Lionel Kearns, poet and professor (born 6 February 1937 in Nelson, BC). In 1955, Lionel Kearns enrolled at the University of British Columbia, where Earle Birney advised his thesis on prosody and verse notation.

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Bonnie Devine

Bonnie Devine, artist, writer, professor (born 12 April 1952 in Toronto, ON). A member of the Serpent River First Nation, Bonnie Devine is a prominent Ojibwe artist and writer. She has applied Ojibwe mythology and storytelling traditions to drawing, painting, sculpture, site-specific interventions, performance and video. She held a solo exhibition, The Tecumseh Papers, at the Art Gallery of Windsor in 2013. She was also featured with other Indigenous artists in Anishinaabe Artists of the Great Lakes at the Art Gallery of Ontario. She is an Associate Professor at the Ontario College of Art and Design University and is the founding chair of the school’s Indigenous Visual Culture Program. She received a Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts in 2021.

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Rebecca Belmore

​Increasingly recognized as one of the most important artists of her generation, Rebecca Belmore's performances, videos, sculptures, and photographs starkly confront the ongoing history of oppression of Indigenous peoples in Canada.

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Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun

Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun, Coast Salish and Okanagan (see Interior Salish) artist and activist (born in 1957 at Kamloops, British Columbia). Yuxweluptun trained at the Emily Carr College of Art (now the Emily Carr University of Art and Design) in the late 1970s and early 1980s, focusing on historical European art. His paintings employ both traditional Northwest Coast imagery (see Northwest Coast Indigenous Art) and surrealist visual language to critique colonialism, racism against Indigenous peoples, capitalism, and environmental destruction, among other issues. In addition to paintings, Yuxweluptun has produced multimedia artworks, videos and performances that are political in nature. In 2013, Yuxweluptun was awarded a Fellowship at the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art in Indianapolis, USA. Yuxweluptun’s art is featured in the permanent collections of many prominent galleries and museums in North America.

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Arnold Davidson Dunton

Throughout the controversies that arose over the funding and regulation of the new medium of television, Dunton was a persuasive defender of the corporation's independence and a strong advocate of the need to fund publicly a television system that would be of great national benefit.

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Loretta Todd

Loretta Todd, documentary filmmaker, installation artist, essayist (b at Edmonton circa 1963). A central figure in what might be considered the second wave of Indigenous directors, Todd brings insight, discipline, resistance to sentimentality and a sense of adventurousness to her non-fiction films.

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Buffy Sainte-Marie

Beverly Sainte-Marie, CC, singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, educator, social activist, philanthropist, visual artist (born 20 February 1941 on Piapot Reserve, SK). Buffy Sainte-Marie is a pioneering and influential singer-songwriter. She specializes in love songs and music with a political and social-activist focus. She was an important figure in the Greenwich Village and Toronto folk music revivals in the 1960s, and is perhaps best known for her 1964 anti-war anthem “Universal Soldier.” It was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2005. Sainte-Marie also won a Golden Globe, a BAFTA and an Academy Award for co-writing the hit song “Up Where We Belong.” She has received the Polaris Music Prize and the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award, as well as multiple Juno Awards, Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards, lifetime achievement awards and honorary degrees. A Companion of the Order of Canada, she has been inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame and Canada’s Walk of Fame.

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Wab Kinew

Wabanakwut Kinew, hip hop artist, broadcaster, university administrator, author, politician (born 31 December 1981 in Kenora, ON). An Ojibwa activist and public intellectual, Wab Kinew began his career as a musician and rapper with the hip hop group Dead Indians. He gained national attention through his radio and television journalism for the CBC, including 8th Fire, a television series on Indigenous issues. Kinew’s 2015 memoir, The Reason You Walk, was a national bestseller and finalist for the RBC Taylor Prize. Kinew was elected to the Manitoba legislature in 2016, despite controversial tweets and rap lyrics that dogged his campaign. Similarly, revelations of stayed domestic assault charges from 2003 threatened to derail his bid to become leader of the Manitoba New Democratic Party, though he was named leader in September 2017.

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Jackson Beardy

Jackson Beardy (also known as Quincy Pickering Jackson Beardy), Oji-Cree artist (born 24 July 1944 at Island Lake, MB; died 8 December 1984 in Winnipeg, MB). Beardy was part of the Woodlands School of Indigenous art, and in 1973 he became part of a group of Indigenous artists popularly known as the Indian Group of Seven. His stylized artworks — sometimes painted on canvas, birch bark or beaver skins — were often concerned with the interdependence of humans and nature. They also tended to depict figures from Ojibwe and Cree oral traditions. From the late 1960s to his death in the early 1980s, Beardy promoted Indigenous art as a valid category of contemporary art. His influence as a Woodland artist has contributed to the development of contemporary Indigenous art in Canada.

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Katherena Vermette

Katherena Vermette, Métis poet, short-story writer, novelist, filmmaker, teacher (born 29 January 1977 in Winnipeg, MB). Métis writer Katherena Vermette is a rising star of Canadian literature. In her poetry, prose and film, she explores some of the most vital issues facing Canada today: the search for identity and the ongoing effects of historical and institutional prejudice. She won the Governor General’s Award in 2013 for her first collection of poems, North End Love Songs, and is the author of the acclaimed 2016 novel The Break.

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Edward Sapir

Edward Sapir, anthropologist, linguist, essayist (born 26 January 1884 in Lauenburg, Germany; died 4 February 1939 in New Haven, Connecticut).

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Paul Kane

Paul Kane, painter (born 3 September 1810 in Mallow, County Cork, Ireland; died 20 February 1871 in Toronto, ON).