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Powwows in Canada

Powwows are celebrations that showcase Indigenous music, dances, regalia, food and crafts. Commonly hosted by First Nations communities (either on reserve or in urban settings), powwows are often open to non-Indigenous and Métis and Inuit peoples alike. Contemporary powwows originated on the Great Plains during the late 19th century and, since the 1950s, have been growing in size, number and popularity. Powwows serve an important role in many Indigenous peoples’ lives as a forum to visit family and friends, and to celebrate their cultural heritage, while also serving as a site for cross-cultural sharing with other attendees and participants. Indeed, powwows provide the opportunity for visitors to learn about, and increase their awareness of, traditional and contemporary Indigenous life and culture.

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Schitt’s Creek

One of the most acclaimed Canadian TV series of all time, Schitt’s Creek is a CBC sitcom about a wealthy family who loses their fortune and is forced to live in the fictional small town of the show’s name. Created by co-stars Daniel Levy and his father, Eugene Levy, the series is centred on the tension between the town’s down-to-earth residents and the ostentatious Rose family. In 2020, it won nine Primetime Emmy Awards and became the first comedy series ever to win all seven of the top awards: best comedy series, best lead and supporting actor and actress, and best writing and directing. It has also won 24 Canadian Screen Awards, including five for best actress in a comedy series (Catherine O’Hara) and three for best comedy series.

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Canada’s Walk of Fame

Canada’s Walk of Fame is a nonprofit 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. One hundred and eighty people have been inducted since 1998.

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Hudson’s Bay Point Blanket

The Hudson’s Bay Point Blanket is a wool blanket with a series of stripes and points (markers on cloth) first made for the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) in 1779. The most iconic design is that which is white with green, red, yellow and indigo stripes; these colours are now used as an emblem for the HBC. While the HBC was not the first to create the point blanket, the company did popularize it among Indigenous and settler communities in Canada. Today, the design from the blanket is used on a variety of clothing, accessories and household items sold by the HBC.

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Cradleboard

Historically, the cradleboard (or cradle board), was used by various Indigenous peoples to protect and carry babies. Securely bound to a thin rectangular board, a baby could be carried on its mother's back or put in a safe location while she performed her daily routine. In some communities, Indigenous peoples still use cradleboards.

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Media Convergence

Media convergence refers to the merging of previously distinct media technologies and platforms through digitization and computer networking. This is also known as technological convergence. Media convergence is also a business strategy whereby communications companies integrate their ownership of different media properties. This is also called media consolidation, media concentration or economic convergence. (See also Media Ownership.)

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Polaris Music Prize

The Polaris Music Prize was founded by Steve Jordan in 2006 and is awarded annually to the Canadian artist or group who creates the best full-length album. The mandate of the Polaris Music Prize has been likened to that of the UK’s Mercury Prize; all genres of contemporary music are eligible, and albums are judged on artistic merit rather than on commercial success. The winner is announced at the Polaris Music Prize Gala held each September in Toronto . The original cash prize of $20,000 was increased to $30,000 in 2011 and to $50,000 in 2015. Shortlisted artists have often performed at the Gala, which is broadcast live on CBC Radio 3 and YouTube.

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Inuksuk (Inukshuk)

Inuksuk (also spelled inukshuk, plural inuksuit) is a figure made of piled stones or boulders constructed to communicate with humans throughout the Arctic. Traditionally constructed by the Inuit, inuksuit are integral to Inuit culture and are often intertwined with representations of Canada and the North. A red inuksuk is found on the flag of Nunavut. In Inuktitut, the term inuksuk means "to act in the capacity of a human." It is an extension of the word inuk meaning "a human being." Inuksuit have been found close to archaeological sites dating from 2400 to 1800 BCE in the Mingo Lake region of southwest Baffin Island. (See also Prehistory.) While stone figures resembling human forms are often referred to as inuksuk, such figures are actually known as inunnguaq.

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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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Egghead

Caroline Pignat’s Egghead (2008) is a young adult novel that details the effects of bullying through the eyes of three junior high school students. The novel has been lauded for its sensitive portrayal of multiple perspectives of the causes and effects of bullying. Egghead was shortlisted for numerous prizes, including the Ontario Library Association’s Red Maple award, the Saskatchewan Young Reader’s Association Snow Willow Award and the Canadian Library Association’s Young Adult Book of the Year award. 

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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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