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André Nault, Métis leader, farmer, and buffalo hunter (born 20 April 1830 in Point Douglas, Red River Colony [now Winnipeg, MB]; died 17 December 1924 in St Vital, MB). Although a kinsman of Louis Riel and always considered a Métis, Nault was not of mixed blood (his mother and father were French Canadian).
Gloria Mary Maureen George, Indigenous politician, activist and public servant (born 24 July 1942 in Hubert, BC). A tireless advocate for non-status Indians, George was elected president of the Native Council of Canada in 1975, becoming the first and only woman to lead a major Indigenous political organization.
R v. Bedard (1971) challenged section 12(1)(b) of the Indian Act, which concerns the rights of Status Indian women in Canada. The appellant in the case, Yvonne Bedard, took the federal government to court after losing her rights as a Status Indian because of her marriage to a Non-Status man. In 1973, before the Supreme Court of Canada, the Bedard case merged with AG v. Lavell, another case concerning gender discrimination (see Status of Women) in the Indian Act. Although Bedard ultimately lost her reinstatement claims, her case inspired future legal battles regarding women’s rights and the Indian Act, including Lovelace v. Canada (1981) (see Sandra Lovelace Nicholas) and the Descheneaux case (2015).
Claudette Bradshaw, community activist, politician (born 8 April 1949 in Moncton, NB). Claudette Bradshaw’s early career was spent in nonprofit social work. She founded Moncton Headstart, an early family intervention centre, and advocated for at-risk youth. She was Member of Parliament for Moncton–Riverview–Dieppe from 1997 to 2006 and served in several ministerial roles in the Liberal governments of Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin, including Minister of Labour and Minister of State (Human Resources Development). Since then, she has become a major advocate for mental health, literacy and affordable housing.
Dwight Ball, pharmacist, businessman, premier of Newfoundland and Labrador 2015 to present, leader of the Liberal Party of Newfoundland and Labrador (born 21 December 1957 in Deer Lake, NL). Ball became premier at a time of economic crisis. After several years of prosperity, slumping oil revenues required his government to bring in unpopular austerity measures to fight a burgeoning provincial debt. Ball retained the premiership in 2019, when his Liberal Party won a minority government. On 17 February 2020, Dwight Ball announced his resignation as premier of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Samuel de Champlain
Samuel de Champlain, cartographer, explorer, colonial administrator, author (born circa 1567 in Brouage, France; died 25 December 1635 in Quebec City). Known as the “Father of New France,” Samuel de Champlain played a major role in establishing New France from 1603 to 1635. He is also credited with founding Quebec City in 1608. He explored the Atlantic coastline (in Acadia), the Canadian interior and the Great Lakes region. He also helped found French colonies in Acadia and at Trois-Rivières, and he established friendly relations and alliances with many First Nations, including the Montagnais, the Huron, the Odawa and the Nipissing. For many years, he was the chief person responsible for administrating the colony of New France. Champlain published four books as well as several maps of North America. His works are the only written account of New France at the beginning of the 17th century.
Native People's Caravan
The Native People’s Caravan was a cross-country mobile protest that took place in 1974. Its main purpose was to raise awareness about the poor living conditions and discrimination experienced by Indigenous peoples in Canada. It travelled from Vancouver to Ottawa, where the subsequent occupation of a vacant warehouse on Victoria Island, near Parliament Hill, extended into 1975. The caravan brought various Indigenous groups together in protest of broken treaties, as well as a lack of government-supported education, housing and health care. As a result, meetings between Cabinet ministers and Indigenous leaders became more frequent. The protest is remembered as an important turning point in Indigenous activism in Canada.
Maisie Hurley, née Maisie Amy Campbell-Johnston, Vancouver-area political activist, Indigenous ally (see Indigenous Peoples in Canada), newspaper founder and art collector (born 27 November 1887 in Swansea, Wales; died 3 October 1964 in North Vancouver, British Columbia). Although Hurley had no formal legal training or law degree (see Legal Education), she worked on several legal cases and advocated for Indigenous peoples’ basic human rights as well as for changes to the Indian Act. In 1946, Hurley started a newspaper called The Native Voice that aimed to bring attention to important issues concerning Indigenous communities across Canada (see Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Canada). In 2011, Hurley’s collection of Indigenous art was displayed at the North Vancouver Museum.
Judy Rebick, feminist, social activist, author, broadcaster, public speaker (born 15 August 1945 in Reno, Nevada). Judy Rebick has championed the rights of women, minorities and the working class since the 1960s. She was a member of the NDP’s Waffle caucus and a pro-choice spokesperson for the Ontario Coalition for Abortion Clinics. She rose to national prominence as the president of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women (1990–93) and as the host of CBC TV programs (1994–2000). From 2002 to 2010, she was the Sam Gindin Chair in Social Justice and Democracy at Ryerson University. She is also a best-selling author and was the founding publisher of rabble.ca.
Jason Kenney, politician, leader of the United Conservative Party of Alberta, premier of Alberta (born 30 May 1968 in Oakville, ON). Jason Kenney is the leader of the United Conservative Party in Alberta and the Leader of the Opposition in that province. From 1997 to 2016, he was Member of Parliament for Calgary Southeast. He held several Cabinet positions in the Conservative government under Prime Minister Stephen Harper, including minister for citizenship, immigration and multiculturalism, minister of employment and social development and minister of national defence. Kenney resigned his seat in Parliament in 2016, following the defeat of the Conservative government in the previous year’s election. In 2017, he was elected leader of the Alberta Progressive Conservative party, which then merged with the Wildrose Party. After the merger, Kenney was elected leader of the United Conservative Party. On 16 April 2019, Kenney and the UCP won a majority government in the Alberta general election.
Besha (Bessie) Starkman (Perri), organized crime boss (born 14 April 1889 or 21 June 1890 in Poland; died 13 August 1930 in Hamilton, ON). During the Prohibition era she became known as Canada’s first high-profile female crime boss. With her common-law spouse, mobster Rocco Perri, she ran a bootlegging and drug-smuggling enterprise. Starkman was gunned down in the garage of her home and her murderers were never caught. Her funeral was one of the largest ever seen in Hamilton.
Ella Cora Hind
Ella Cora Hind, journalist, agricultural authority, activist and suffragist (born 18 September 1861 in Toronto, ON; died 6 October 1942 in Winnipeg, MB). A pioneer throughout her life, Hind was an acclaimed grain expert, a champion of women’s rights and an advocate for the franchise.
Gilbert John Murray Kynynmond Elliot, 4th Earl of Minto
Gilbert John Murray-Kynynmound Eliot, Viscount Melgund and 4th Earl of Minto, governor general of Canada from 1898 to 1904 (born 9 July 1845 in London, United Kingdom; died 1 March 1914 in Minto, Roxburghshire, United Kingdom).
Mumilaaq Qaqqaq, Inuk Member of Parliament (born 4 November 1993 in Baker Lake, NU). In 2019, Qaqqaq became, at age 25, Nunavut’s youngest MP in history, and the first from the New Democratic Party (NDP) since Nunavut became a territory in 1999. Before entering politics, Qaqqaq was a public speaker and activist who raised awareness of the various crises that Inuit face (suicide, food insecurity, housing, climate).
Brian William Pallister, premier of Manitoba 2016 to present, teacher, financial consultant, politician (born 6 July 1954 in Portage la Prairie, MB). A long-time figure in Canadian Conservative politics, Pallister became Manitoba's 22nd premier in May 2016.
Charlie Watt, Inuk leader (born 29 June 1944 in Fort Chimo [now Kuujjuaq], Québec). Watt founded the Northern Québec Inuit Association in 1972 and was a negotiator for the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement (JBNQA), signed in 1975. He served in the Canadian Senate from 1984 to 2018. Since January 2018, he has served as president of Makivic Corporation in Nunavik, the Inuit homeland in northern Quebec.
Enfranchisement (Plain-Language Summary)
Throughout much of Canadian history, a First Nations person would lose their Indian status if they were enfranchised. An enfranchised person is someone who has the right to vote in elections. A First Nations person who is deemed a Status Indian has certain rights and benefits granted to them through the Indian Act.
(This article is a plain-language summary of Enfranchisement. If you are interested in reading about this topic in more depth, please see our full-length entry Enfranchisement).
Official Languages Act (1988) (Plain-Language Summary)
The Official Languages Act of 1969 made English and French the two official languages in Canada. The Official Languages Act of 1988 offered more detail about how the policies of bilingualism should be put into practice. It highlighted the responsibilities of federal institutions with respect to official languages in Canada. An important goal of the Official Languages Act is to ensure the equality of English and French in federal institutions and in Canadian society.
(This article is a plain-language summary of the Official Languages Act of 1988. If you are interested in reading about this topic in more depth, please see our full-length entry on The Official Languages Act (1988).)
Clara Brett Martin: Hero or Villain?
"This application to the Law Society of Upper Canada is refused. The governing statute regulating this body, not having been drafted under the advanced views of the day and specifically referring to the admission of persons, does not permit the interpretation of 'persons' to include women. This was the spirit of the reply to Clara Brett Martin's application to study law in 1891.