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Nobel Prizes and Canada

The Nobel Prizes are awarded annually for achievements that have significantly benefitted humankind. The prizes are among the highest international honours and are awarded in six categories: physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature, peace, and economics. They are administered by the Nobel Foundation and awarded by institutions in Sweden and Norway. Eighteen Canadians have won Nobel Prizes, excluding Canadian-born individuals who gave up their citizenship and members of organizations that have won the peace prize.

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SARS in Canada

Canada experienced an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003. Most of the infections originated in Toronto hospitals. The outbreak led to the quarantine of thousands, killed 44 people and took an economic toll on Toronto. It also exposed the country’s ill-prepared health-care system. Confusion around SARS fuelled an uptick in anti-Asian and anti-immigrant sentiment.

Click here for definitions of key terms used in this article.

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Canada's Opioid Crisis

Overdoses from a class of painkiller drugs called opioids are claiming the lives of thousands of Canadians from all walks of life. The death count is the result of an escalating public health crisis: an epidemic of opioid addiction. The crisis is made deadlier by an influx of illicit fentanyl and chemically similar drugs, but it can be traced to the medical over-prescribing of opioids, including oxycodone, fentanyl and morphine.

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AES-90

The AES-90 word processor was an innovation released by the Montreal-based technology company Automatic Electronic Systems Inc. in 1972. The new machine was a pioneer within its generation that not only revolutionized office automation, but also set the trend for the design of word processors around the world.

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Kangaroo APCs (Armoured Personnel Carriers)

“Kangaroo” is the nickname given to a series of military transport vehicles (APCs) designed by the Canadian army in 1944, during the Battle of Normandy. (See Second World War.) It was a modified version of existing armoured vehicles such as the M7 (Priest) self-propelled gun, the Ram tank and the Sherman tank. Major components of these vehicles, such as their turret, were removed, thus allowing them to be used to transport infantry soldiers, safe from enemy fire.

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Filibuster

A filibuster is a parliamentary delaying tactic. It is typically employed by opposition parties to delay or prevent the passage of a bill they don’t like. A filibuster is brought about when legislators speak at great length in opposition to a bill; propose numerous, often trivial amendments; or raise many parliamentary points of privilege. All of this is designed to keep the bill from coming to a vote. The goal of a filibuster is to either change a bill or stop its passage.

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Hawker Hurricane

The Hawker Hurricane was a combat aircraft of the 1930s and 1940s, designed by the British aircraft manufacturer Hawker Aircraft Ltd. The Hurricane was one of the principal combat aircraft that defended the United Kingdom during the Battle of Britain. This fighter plane played a pivotal role in the Second World War, primarily serving with the Royal Air Force, Royal Navy, Royal Canadian Air Force and Soviet Air Force. The Hurricane was mass-produced, with over 14,000 examples manufactured from 1937 to 1944. The Hurricane was produced in the United Kingdom and in Canada, with 1,451 examples built at the Canadian Car & Foundry plant, which was located in Fort William (now Thunder Bay), Ontario. Hurricane production in Canada lasted from 1938 to 1943 and was overseen by Elsie MacGill, the first woman in Canada to earn a master’s degree in aeronautical engineering. MacGill was popularly known as the “Queen of the Hurricanes” for overseeing the rapid production of the aircraft. At the height of production, the Canadian Car & Foundry plant produced 15 new aircraft each week. 

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Opposition Party in Canada

An opposition party is a political party that does not win enough seats in a general election to form a government. The elected members of that party instead serve in the legislature as the opposition. An opposition party criticizes and challenges the governing party, with the goal of improving legislation and forming the government in the next election. The opposition party with the most seats is called the Official Opposition or Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition. This title emphasizes that the party remains loyal to the Crown even as they oppose the governing party. The leader of the opposition party with the most seats is called the leader of the Opposition.

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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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White Paper

A government white paper is a Cabinet-approved document that explains a political issue and proposed legislation to address it. The purpose of a white paper is to introduce a new government policy to test the public’s reaction to it. The name derives from the custom of binding the document in white paper, rather than using a cover page. White papers are different from green papers, which seek public reaction not to new policy but to more general proposals. The most controversial white paper in Canada was issued in 1969; it sought to redefine the relationship between the federal government and Indigenous peoples. (See The 1969 White Paper.)

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British Subject Status

British subject status was the precursor to Canadian citizenship, which was created on 1 January 1947 with the passage of the Canadian Citizenship Act. Until then, people who were considered Canadian citizens were subjects of the British Empire. In a monarchy, subjects serve the monarch; but in a democracy, the state serves its citizens. Changing Canadians from subjects to citizens provided a fundamental advancement in Canada’s democracy, rule of law, and civil rights. Like the Statute of Westminster in 1931, it was a key step in Canada’s journey toward sovereignty and autonomy from Britain.

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Canadian Forces Base Valcartier

Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Valcartier is one of the oldest military training areas in Canada. Located a few kilometres north of Quebec City, it was founded as Camp Valcartier just before the First World War. During the war, it was the primary training base for the First Canadian Contingent before it departed for overseas service. Today it is one of the Canadian Army’s major bases and is known as 2nd Canadian Division Support Base Valcartier.

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British Commonwealth Air Training Plan

In 1939, Canada, Great Britain, New Zealand and Australia signed an agreement creating the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP). Located in Canada, the plan's mandate was to train Allied aircrews for the Second World War, including pilots, navigators, bomb aimers, wireless operators, air gunners, and flight engineers. More than 130,000 crewmen and women were trained between 1939 and 1945, making this one of Canada's great contributions to Allied victory in the war. It led United States President Franklin Roosevelt to call Canada the "aerodrome of democracy."

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Battle of Ortona

In December 1943, as part of the Allied advance through Italy during the Second World War, Canadian forces fought one of their toughest battles of the war in a bid to capture the town of Ortona. The month-long campaign — first at the Moro River outside Ortona, then with vicious street fighting in the town itself — cost more than 2,300 Canadian casualties, but eventually won Ortona for the Allies.

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Land Cession

A land cession is a transfer of land from one party to another through a deed of sale or surrender. Land cessions may also be referred to as land surrenders and land purchases. In Canada and the United States, Indigenous land cessions generally took place through negotiated treaties. There are cases, however, where Indigenous peoples claim that lands were taken unjustly. The Royal Proclamation of 1763 established the protocols for land cession in both Canada and the United States.

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2018 Toronto Van Attack

At 1:24 p.m. on 23 April 2018, a 25-year-old man who identified as an incel (involuntary celibate), drove a rented van onto the sidewalk on Yonge Street in Toronto’s North York business district. He proceeded to drive south, intentionally running over pedestrians. When he was stopped by police 10 minutes later, 10 people (eight of them women) were dead and 16 injured. It was the biggest mass murder in Toronto history and the worst in Canada since the Montreal massacre in 1989. On 3 March 2021, the driver was found guilty of 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder. His sentencing process is scheduled to begin on 11 January 2022.