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Notable Indigenous Entrepreneurs in Canada

Indigenous economies thrived long before Europeans arrived in North America and, due to hard work and ingenuity, a growing number of Indigenous entrepreneurs are enjoying success today. Many are demonstrating a blending of traditional values and an Indigenous world view with financial success. The following are but a few of a long list of remarkable Indigenous entrepreneurs running thriving businesses in Canada. (See also Economic Conditions of Indigenous Peoples in Canada.)

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Jean Lumb

Jean Bessie Lumb (née Toy Jin Wong), CM, community leader, restaurateur (born 30 July 1919 in Nanaimo, BC; died 17 July 2002 in Toronto, ON). Jean Lumb was the first Chinese Canadian woman and first restaurateur inducted into the Order of Canada. She is also best known for her role in successfully lobbying the federal government to change its discriminatory immigration policies that separated Chinese families. Lumb also led the Save Chinatown Committee to prevent further demolition of Toronto’s Chinatown in the 1960s.

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Heather Reisman

Heather Maxine Reisman, OC, entrepreneur, business executive (born 28 August 1948 in Montreal, QC). Reisman is best known as the founder, executive chair and CEO of Indigo Books & Music, Canada’s largest book and specialty toy retailer, and the co-founder of Kobo, a top global e-reader maker. She holds honorary doctorates from several universities and a bachelor’s degree in social work from McGill University. In 2022, Reisman was inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame.

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Ted Rogers

Edward Samuel (Ted) Rogers Jr., OC, founder and CEO of Rogers Communications, businessman, philanthropist (born 27 May 1933 in Toronto, ON; died 2 December 2008 in Toronto, ON). Rogers was a pioneer in the Canadian communications industry who established Rogers Communications. At the time of his death in 2008, Rogers was the fourth-richest Canadian, with a net worth of over $7 billion, while the company was worth $18 billion and employed roughly 29,000 people. Rogers Communications owned Canada’s largest wireless telecommunications company and cable TV company; 52 radio stations; numerous TV stations (including CityTV, OMNI, Sportsnet and The Shopping Channel); more than 70 consumer and trade magazines (including Maclean’s, Chatelaine and Flare); and the Toronto Blue Jays and Rogers Centre (formerly the SkyDome).

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Canadian Film History: Notable Films and Filmmakers 1980 to Present

Filmmaking is a powerful form of cultural and artistic expression, as well as a highly profitable commercial enterprise. From a practical standpoint, filmmaking is a business involving large sums of money and a complex division of labour. This labour is involved, roughly speaking, in three sectors: production, distribution and exhibition. The history of the Canadian film industry has been one of sporadic achievement accomplished in isolation against great odds. Canadian cinema has existed within an environment where access to capital for production, to the marketplace for distribution and to theatres for exhibition has been extremely difficult. The Canadian film industry, particularly in English Canada, has struggled against the Hollywood entertainment monopoly for the attention of an audience that remains largely indifferent toward the domestic industry. The major distribution and exhibition outlets in Canada have been owned and controlled by foreign interests. The lack of domestic production throughout much of the industry’s history can only be understood against this economic backdrop.

This article is one of four that surveys the history of the film industry in Canada. The entire series includes: Canadian Film History: 1896 to 1938; Canadian Film History: 1939 to 1973; Canadian Film History: 1974 to Present; Canadian Film History: Notable Films and Filmmakers 1980 to Present.

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Canadian Film History: 1939 to 1973

Filmmaking is a powerful form of cultural and artistic expression, as well as a highly profitable commercial enterprise. From a practical standpoint, filmmaking is a business involving large sums of money and a complex division of labour. This labour is involved, roughly speaking, in three sectors: production, distributionand exhibition. The history of the Canadian film industry has been one of sporadic achievement accomplished in isolation against great odds. Canadian cinema has existed within an environment where access to capital for production, to the marketplace for distribution and to theatres for exhibition has been extremely difficult. The Canadian film industry, particularly in English Canada, has struggled against the Hollywood entertainment monopoly for the attention of an audience that remains largely indifferent toward the domestic industry. The major distribution and exhibition outlets in Canada have been owned and controlled by foreign interests. The lack of domestic production throughout much of the industry’s history can only be understood against this economic backdrop.

This article is one of four that surveys the history of the film industry in Canada. The entire series includes: Canadian Film History: 1896 to 1938; Canadian Film History: 1939 to 1973; Canadian Film History: 1974 to Present; Canadian Film History: Regional Cinema and Auteurs, 1980 to Present.

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Susur Lee

Susur Lee, chef, restaurateur (born 1 January 1958 in Hong Kong). Susur Lee is a celebrated pioneer of modern Chinese cuisine and “fusion” cooking. He has received the prestigious CAA Five Diamond Award in Cannes, France, and was named one of the “ten chefs of the millennium” by Toronto-based Food & Wine magazine.

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Joseph Bloor

Joseph Bloor, innkeeper, brewer (also spelled Bloore; born in 1789 near Staffordshire, England; died 31 August 1862 in Toronto, ON). Bloor is the namesake of Toronto’s Bloor Street and was a prominent innkeeper and brewer in the early half of the 19th century. He was the founder of the village of Yorkville, which is now part of the city of Toronto.

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Elizabeth Arden

Elizabeth Arden (née Florence Nightingale Graham), entrepreneur, founder of Elizabeth Arden Inc. (born 31 December 1881 in Vaughan Township, ON; died 18 October 1966 in New York City, NY). Arden was an innovator in the cosmetics and beauty culture industry. She used mass marketing to promote her products and change popular perceptions of makeup (see Advertising). Her clientele included British royalty and celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor. She rose from humble beginnings to being one of the wealthiest women in the world.

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Jim Pattison

James Allen Pattison, OC, OBC, entrepreneur, business executive (born 1 October 1928 in Saskatoon, SK). Pattison is best known as the founder, chairman and chief executive officer of The Jim Pattison Group, Canada’s second largest private company, with $10.1 billion in annual sales in 2018. The Jim Pattison Group has divisions in broadcast media, signage, supermarkets, fishing, forestry, agriculture, equipment, manufacturing, recreation, marketing and entertainment. With an estimated net worth of $9.6 billion (2021), Pattison is one of the richest individuals in Canada. He is also a philanthropist, having donated a landmark $75 million in 2017 to establish the Jim Pattison Medical Centre in Vancouver. Pattison is the recipient of numerous awards and honours.

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Canada’s Walk of Fame

Canada’s Walk of Fame is a non-profit 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. More than 210 people have been inducted since the Walk was founded in 1998.

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Allan Slaight

John Allan Slaight, CM, media mogul, philanthropist, reporter, broadcaster, magician (born 19 July 1931 in Galt, ON; died 19 September 2021 in Toronto, ON). After briefly working as a magician, Allan Slaight started his career as a radio reporter. He quickly rose through the ranks and bought his first radio station before his 40th birthday. By the time he sold his holdings to Astral Media for $1.08 billion in 2007, the media magnate had amassed more than 50 radio stations and a pair of TV stations. He also owned the Toronto Raptors and was a notable philanthropist, with numerous awards now named in his honour. Slaight was made a Member of the Order of Canada and has a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame.

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Lise Watier

Lise Watier, (born Montréal, 1942). A pampered only child, Lise Watier was always interested in feminine beauty and made it her life's work. During the 1980s she began her Québec radio and television career by hosting women's programmes.