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Article

Karen Kain

Karen Alexandria Kain, CC, OOnt, dancer, artistic director, arts administrator (born 28 March 1951 in Hamilton, ON). Karen Kain is one of Canada's finest and most internationally renowned dancers. In her 28 years as a dancer with the National Ballet of Canada (NBC), she won renown for her strong technique, breadth of movement, sensitive musicality, daring attack and versatile dramatic ability. Her repertoire spanned both classical and contemporary works, including all the major full-length ballerina roles and a range of leading roles in shorter works. She continued working with the NBC beyond her retirement as a ballerina; she served as the company’s artistic director from May 2005 until January 2021 and is now artistic director emeritus. She is a Companion of the Order of Canada, an Officer of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres de France, and a Member of the Order of Ontario and Canada’s Walk of Fame. She has received a Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement and numerous other honours.

Article

Kim Thúy

Kim Thúy, CQ, writer (born 18 September 1968 in Saigon, Vietnam). The winner of several prestigious literary awards for her first novel, Ru, this Quebec writer of Vietnamese origin is known for her short and elegant stories. Her novels deal with the migrant experience and the challenges of adapting to a new culture. Written in French, which Thúy calls her “second mother tongue,” they have been translated into 15 languages.

Article

Elizabeth Lawrie Smellie

Elizabeth Lawrie Smellie, nurse (born 22 March 1884 in Port Arthur, ON; died 5 March 1968 in Toronto, ON). Elizabeth (Beth) Smellie wrote that she had been “occasionally addressed as Colonel, Doctor, Matron, Sister, or Miss Smellie” — each title revealing different aspects of her life and career. She served as a nursing sister during the First World War, rose through the ranks as a matron and then assistant to the matron-in-chief of the postwar army nursing service. She left the military to take public health courses, teach at the McGill University School for Graduate Nurses, and work for the Victorian Order of Nurses (VON) before becoming the VON’s chief superintendent. The Canadian Army asked Smellie to return as matron-in-chief of its nursing service for the Second World War, as well as organizer of a new army division, the Canadian Women’s Army Corps. (See also Nursing.)

Article

Edith Monture

Charlotte Edith Anderson Monture (often known simply as Edith Monture), Mohawk First World War veteran, registered nurse, (born 10 April 1890 on Six Nations reserve near Brantford, ON; died 3 April 1996 in Ohsweken, ON). Edith was the first Indigenous woman to become a registered nurse in Canada and to gain the right to vote in a Canadian federal election. She was also the first Indigenous woman from Canada to serve in the United States military. Edith broke barriers for Indigenous women in the armed forces and with regards to federal voting rights. A street (Edith Monture Avenue) and park (Edith Monture Park) are named after her in Brantford, Ontario.

Article

Mordecai Richler

Mordecai Richler, CC, novelist, essayist, social critic (born 27 January 1931 in Montréal, QC; died 3 July 2001 in Montréal, QC). A singular figure in Canadian literary and cultural history, Richler remained, in the words of critic Robert Fulford, “the loyal opposition to the governing principles of Canadian culture” throughout his long and productive career. His instincts were to ask hard, uncomfortable questions and to take clear, often unpopular moral positions. Born into an Orthodox family in Montréal’s old Jewish neighborhood, a community he immortalized in his work, he was from the start a complex and uncompromising figure, at once rejecting many of the formal tenets of his faith while embracing its intellectual and ethical rigour. That tension, along with an innately absurdist vision of life, a raw, bracing comedic sensibility, and a fearlessness about speaking his mind, as both artist and citizen, ensured that nearly every word he published displayed a distinctive sensibility. No one else sounded like Mordecai Richler, and few other writers in Canada have ever demanded, and maintained, such a high profile as both an admired literary novelist and a frequently controversial critic. A Companion of the  Order of Canada, two-time winner of the Governor General’s Award (1968 and 1971), and winner of the Giller Prize, Mordecai Richler is without question one of Canada’s greatest writers.

Article

Mike Weir

Michael Richard Weir, CM, OOnt, golfer (born 12 May 1970 in Sarnia, ON). Mike Weir is widely considered the one of the greatest Canadian golfers, and one of the best Canadian athletes, of all time. He became the first Canadian man to win one of professional golf’s four major tournaments when he won the 67th Masters Tournament in 2003. In total, he won eight events on the Professional Golf Association (PGA) Tour, tying him with George Knudson and Sandra Post for the most wins by a Canadian professional golfer (surpased by Brooke Henderson in 2019). Weir won the Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada’s top athlete in 2003 and is a three-time winner of the Lionel Conacher Award as the country’s best male athlete. He has been inducted into the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame and Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame. He has also run a winery and several charitable foundations.

Article

Jeremiah Jones

Jeremiah “Jerry” Alvin Jones, soldier, farmer, truck driver (born 30 March 1858 in East Mountain, NS; died 23 November 1950 in Halifax, NS). Jeremiah Jones was a Black Canadian soldier who served during the First World War. Jones was 58 years old (13 years above the age limit) when he enlisted with the 106th Battalion in 1916. For his heroic actions during the Battle of Vimy Ridge, he was awarded the Canadian Forces Medallion for Distinguished Service in 2010 — 60 years after his death.

Article

Diane Jones Konihowski

Diane Helen Jones Konihowski, OC, pentathlete, administrator (born 7 March 1951 in Vancouver, BC). Diane Jones Konihowski won gold medals for Canada in women’s pentathlon at the 1975 and 1979 Pan American Games and at the 1978 Commonwealth Games in Edmonton. She was considered the gold-medal favourite for the 1980 Olympic Summer Games in Moscow, which Canada boycotted. She also served as director of the Canadian Olympic Committee and as Canada’s chef de mission at the 2000 Olympic Summer Games in Sydney. A winner of the Bobbie Rosenfeld Award as Canada’s top female athlete and an Officer of the Order of Canada, Jones Konihowski has been inducted into the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame, the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame and Museum, the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame and Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame.

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Gerald Stanley Case

On 9 February 2018, Gerald Stanley, a white farmer in rural Saskatchewan, was acquitted of murder and manslaughter in the killing of Colten Boushie, a 22-year-old Cree man. The acquittal caused great controversy but was not appealed by prosecutors. However, it led the Justin Trudeau government to abolish peremptory challenges, which allowed Stanley’s legal team to keep five Indigenous people off the all-white jury that acquitted him. In 2021, an investigation conducted by a civilian watchdog concluded that that the RCMP was insensitive and racially discriminatory toward Boushie’s mother, and that the police mishandled witnesses and evidence. A Globe and Mail investigation also found that the RCMP “destroyed records of police communications from the night Colten Boushie died.”

Article

Ignace Bourget

Lartigue recommended Bourget to Rome and on 25 July 1837 Bourget was installed as his coadjutor with right of succession, which took effect at Lartigue's death on 19 April 1840.

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Bianca Andreescu

Bianca Vanessa Andreescu, tennis player (born 16 June 2000 in Mississauga, Ontario). Romanian Canadian tennis player Bianca Andreescu won 19 junior singles titles and 13 junior doubles tournaments between 2012 and 2017, when she turned professional. In August 2019, she became the first Canadian since Faye Urban in 1969 to win the Rogers Cup. Andreescu then won the US Open in September 2019, making her the first Canadian singles tennis player to win a grand slam title. In 2019, she received the Bobbie Rosenfeld Award as Canada’s female athlete of the year and became the first tennis player to win the Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada’s athlete of the year.

Article

Thornton and Lucie Blackburn

Thornton and Lucie (Ruthie) Blackburn, freedom seekers, entrepreneurs, anti-slavery activists and community benefactors (Thornton, born c. 1812 in Maysville, Kentucky; died in 1890 in Toronto, ON. Lucie, born c. 1803, possibly in the West Indies; died in 1895 in Toronto). After a dramatic flight from Kentucky slavery, their recapture in Detroit two years later in 1833 resulted in the Blackburn Riots. Demands for their extradition prompted Upper Canada to establish its first refugee reception policy (see Refugees to Canada). Settling in Toronto, the Blackburns devoted their time and considerable wealth to anti-slavery and African Canadian community causes. (See also Anti-Slavery Society of Canada.) Childless, and having never learned to read or write, their story was nearly forgotten until archaeologists (see Archaeology) unearthed the site of their former home in 1985. The Blackburns’ former property was the first Underground Railroad site ever dug in Canada.

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Marguerite Marie “Marge” Plante (Primary Source)

Marguerite Marie “Marge” Plante left Alberta to join the Women’s Division of the Royal Canadian Air Force, serving as a timekeeper and typist during the Second World War. Read and listen she describes her enlistment, the death of her brother in Italy, interacting with prisoners of war, and the V-E Day celebrations.

Please be advised that Memory Project primary sources may deal with personal testimony that reflect the speaker’s recollections and interpretations of events. Individual testimony does not necessarily reflect the views of the Memory Project and Historica Canada.

Article

Graeme Ferguson

Ivan Graeme Ferguson, filmmaker, executive (born 7 October 1929 in Toronto, Ontario; died 8 May 2021 in Norway Point, Ontario). Ivan Graeme Ferguson has been the recipient of numerous awards and acclaim for his contributions to the film industry, both in Canada and internationally.

Article

Douglas Jung

Douglas Jung, CM, OBC, politician, lawyer, soldier (born 25 February 1924 in Victoria, BC; died 4 January 2002 in Vancouver, BC). Douglas Jung was a member of Force 136, a group of Chinese Canadian soldiers who fought behind enemy lines in the Pacific theatre during the Second World War. After the war, Jung became a lawyer in British Columbia and was the first Chinese Canadian lawyer to appear before the BC Court of Appeal in 1955. On 10 June 1957, Douglas Jung was elected as the first Chinese Canadian member of Parliament.

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Baffin Island Inuit

Baffin Island Inuit (also known as Nunatsiarmiut) are Indigenous peoples who live on Baffin Island, the largest island in the Arctic Archipelago and in the territory of Nunavut. According to the 2016 census, the total Inuit population in the Baffin region was 14,875.

Article

John Foote, VC

John Weir Foote, VC, Presbyterian minister, soldier, Member of (Ontario) Provincial Parliament, cabinet minister (born 5 May 1904 in Madoc, ON; died 2 May 1988 in Cobourg, ON). During the Second World War, Honorary Captain John Foote was the only Canadian chaplain to be awarded the Victoria Cross (VC), the highest award for bravery among troops of the British Empire.

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Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Canada

Missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada (MMIWG) refers to a human rights crisis that has only recently become a topic of discussion within national media. Indigenous women and communities, women’s groups and international organizations have long called for action into the high and disproportionate rates of violence and the appalling numbers of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada. Prior to the launch of the national public inquiry on 8 December 2015, these calls were continually ignored by the federal government. Described by some as a hidden crisis, Dawn Lavell-Harvard, former president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada, refers to MMIWG as a national tragedy and a national shame. In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada supported the call for a national public inquiry into the disproportionate victimization of Indigenous women and girls. The National Inquiry’s Final Report was completed and presented to the public on 3 June 2019.