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Indigenous Oral Histories and Primary Sources

Oral histories play an integral role in Indigenous cultures. They transmit important histories, stories and teachings to new generations. Oral histories — a type of primary source — let Indigenous peoples teach about their own cultures in their own words. Other types of primary sources, such as artifacts from historical Indigenous communities, also transmit knowledge about Indigenous histories and ways of life. Academics, researchers and museum curators use such sources to highlight Indigenous perspectives.

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Chanson in Quebec

Chanson in Quebec. It is through the oral folk tradition, deriving its essential qualities from European folklore, that the Quebec chanson has carved out its privileged position.

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Confederation and Music

Confederation and music. Confederation is the popular term for the federal union in 1867 of the provinces of Upper and Lower Canada (thereafter Ontario and Quebec), New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia under the name Dominion of Canada.

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Indigenous Languages in Canada

There are around 70 distinct Indigenous languages in Canada, falling into 12 separate language families. While in many places there has been decreased transmission of languages from one generation to the next, recognition of this has led to efforts by Indigenous peoples to revitalize and sustain their languages. Canada, and North America more generally, represent a highly complex linguistic region, with numerous languages and great linguistic diversity. Indigenous languages are spoken widely and are official languages in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories, while the Yukon recognizes the significance of the Indigenous languages of the territory. On 5 February 2019, the Canadian government tabled the Indigenous Languages Act, which seeks to protect and revitalize Indigenous languages in Canada.

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1972 Canada-Soviet Hockey Series (Summit Series)

For many Canadians, the eight-game series between Team Canada and the national team of the Soviet Union in 1972 provided the greatest moment in the country’s sporting history. Most expected that Canada would handily defeat the Soviet Union, but this confidence quickly disappeared when Canada lost the first game. The series was tied heading into the final game in Moscow, which ended in a dramatic fashion, with Paul Henderson scoring in the final seconds to give Canada the victory. The series would have a lasting impact on hockey in Canada and abroad.

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Atanarjuat (The Fast Runner)

Based on an ancient Inuit folktale, Atanarjuat (The Fast Runner) is the first Inuktitut-language feature film ever made. A critically-acclaimed commercial success, it won numerous awards worldwide, including the Camera d’or for best first feature at the Cannes Film Festival and five Genie Awards, including Best Screenplay, Best Direction and Best Motion Picture, as well as the Claude Jutra Award (now the Canadian Screen Award for Best First Feature). It is widely considered one of the best Canadian films ever made, and in 2015 was ranked No. 1 of all time in a poll conducted by the Toronto International Film Festival (see Top 10 Canadian Films of All Time).

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Anne of Green Gables

Lucy Maud Montgomery’s first novel, Anne of Green Gables (1908), became an instant bestseller and has remained in print for more than a century, making the character of Anne Shirley a mythic icon of Canadian culture. The book has sold an estimated 50 million copies worldwide, been translated into at least 36 languages, as well as braille, and been adapted more than two dozen times in various mediums. A musical version first produced by the Charlottetown Festival in 1965 is the longest running annual musical theatre production in the world, while the award-winning 1985 CBC miniseries starring Megan Follows is the most-watched television program in Canadian history. Thousands of tourists visit Prince Edward Island each year to see the “sacred sites” related to the book, and the sale of Anne-related commodities such as souvenirs and dolls has come to constitute a cottage industry.

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Communications in the North

Communications have played a special role in the North. Terrain, climate and distance made it difficult for northerners to communicate with each other or with southern Canada before the advent of electronic media. In traditional times, Inuit messages were passed through personal contact.

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Siminovitch Prize

The Siminovitch Prize acknowledges artistic excellence in Canadian theatre. It is Canada’s largest theatre arts award. Also called the Elinore and Lou Siminovitch Prize in Theatre, it was established in honour of playwright Elinore Siminovitch and her husband, the renowned geneticist and medical scientist Louis Siminovitch. It was created in 2001 and is awarded annually to a playwright, director or designer. The prize is valued at $100,000 and is unique in its emphasis on mentorship; a total of $25,000 is shared with up to two theatre protégés of the recipient’s choosing.

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The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen

Partially inspired by the Columbine High School massacre, The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen won the 2012 Governor General’s Award for Children’s Literature. Susin Nielsen’s 2012 youth novel tells the story of Henry Larsen, a teenager who is forced to confront his feelings and learn how to carry on after his bullied, outcast brother commits a school shooting. It was also named the Canadian Library Association Book of the Year for Children and received the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Award.

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Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame

The Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame (CSHF) is a non-profit organization that honours Canadian songs and songwriters. Music publisher Frank Davies founded the bilingual organization in 1998; its inaugural induction ceremony took place in 2003. Winners are inducted in one of three categories: songwriters; songs; and special achievement, for those who have made a significant contribution to the development and recognition of Canadian songs and songwriters. The CSHF has inducted over 50 songwriters and more than 150 songs since its inception.

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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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National Aboriginal Veterans Monument

The National Aboriginal Veterans Monument was unveiled in 2001 in Ottawa to commemorate the contributions made by Indigenous peoples in Canada during the First World War, Second World War and Korean War. The monument, a bronze statue with a granite base, was created by Indigenous artist Noel Lloyd Pinay of the Peepeekisis First Nation in Saskatchewan. It is situated in Confederation Park, directly across from the Lord Elgin Hotel. It is the first monument dedicated to Indigenous veterans in Canada.