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Article

Joseph Francis Dion

Joseph Francis Dion, Métis leader, political organizer, and teacher (born 2 July 1888 near Onion Lake, SK; died 21 December 1960 in Bonnyville, AB). Dion was central to the shaping of modern Indigenous political organizations on the Prairies. He became a farmer (1903) and teacher on the Kehewin reserve (1916-40). In the 1930s he worked with Jim Brady and  Malcolm Norris  to found what is now the Métis Nation of Alberta (1932; president, 1932-58) and the Indian Association of Alberta (1939). Serving in the executives of First Nations, Métis and Roman Catholic Church organizations, he travelled, lectured, recorded living traditions (published as  My Tribe the Crees, 1979) and managed a Métis dance troupe. A relatively conservative reformer, Dion promoted the idea of Indigenous self-help through local agricultural development and the preservation of traditional culture.

Article

Ernestine Russell

Ernestine “Ernie” Jean Russell, gymnast, coach (born 10 June 1938 in Windsor, ON). Ernestine Russell was Canada’s best female gymnast of the 1950s. She was the first woman to represent Canada in gymnastics at the Olympic Summer Games, at Melbourne in 1956. She was also the first Canadian gymnast ever to medal in an international competition, at the 1959 Pan American Games in Chicago, where she won four gold medals and two silver. She won 46 gold medals at the Canadian Gymnastics Championships between 1954 and 1960. She also had a successful career coaching women’s gymnastics at the NCAA level and with Team USA. She has been inducted into the Canadian Amateur Athletic Hall of Fame and the US Gymnastics Hall of Fame.

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Black Enslavement in Canada (Plain-Language Summary)

The practice of slavery was introduced by colonists in New France in the early 1600s. The practice was continued after the British took control of New France in 1760 (see British North America.) For about two hundred years, thousands of Indigenous and Black African people were bought, sold, traded and inherited like property in early Canada. Slavery was abolished (made illegal) throughout British North America in 1834.

(This article is a plain-language summary of slavery in Canada. If you are interested in reading about this topic in more depth, please see our full-length entry on Black Enslavement in Canada.)

Article

Marcelle Gauvreau

Marcelle Gauvreau, Quebec scientist, botanist, educator, administrator, writer and journalist (born 28 February 1907 in Rimouski, QC; died 16 December 1968 in Montreal, QC). A botanist by profession, Marcelle Gauvreau made her mark as a teacher, writer, journalist, administrator and faithful collaborator of Frère Marie-Victorin (Conrad Kirouac). Through her books, articles, talks, the school she established, and her desire to promote public interest in plant life, she encouraged many Quebecers to learn about plants and to love nature in the 20th century.

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Inuit Experiences at Residential School

Residential schools were government-sponsored religious schools created to assimilate Indigenous children into Euro-Canadian culture. Schools in the North were run by missionaries for nearly a century before the federal government began to open new, so-called modern institutions in the 1950s. This was less than a decade after a Special Joint Committee (see Indigenous Suffrage) found that the system was ineffectual. The committee’s recommendations led to the eventual closure of residential schools across the country.

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Martha Salcudean

Martha Eva Salcudean (née Abel), OC, OBC, professor of mechanical engineering (born 26 February 1934 in Cluj, Romania; died 17 July 2019 in British Columbia). Salcudean was a leading authority on computational fluid dynamics and heat transfer. In 1985, she was named chair of the department of mechanical engineering at the University of British Columbia. This made her the first female head of a Canadian university’s engineering department. Salcudean dedicated much of her academic career to forging research and development partnerships. She fostered collaboration between universities, government agencies and industry groups in sectors such as mining, pulp and paper and aeronautics.

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James Bertram Collip

James Bertram Collip (born 20 November 1892 in Belleville, Ontario; died 19 June 1965 in London, Ontario) plunged into endocrinological research and was one of the first to isolate the parathyroid hormone.

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Egerton Ryerson

Adolphus Egerton Ryerson, Methodist minister, educator (born 24 March 1803 in Charlotteville Township, Norfolk County, Upper Canada; died 18 February 1882 in Toronto, Ontario). Egerton Ryerson was a leading figure in education and politics in 19th century Ontario. He helped found and edit the Christian Guardian (1829) and served as president of the Methodist Church of Canada (1874–78). As superintendent of education in Canada West, Ryerson established a system of free, mandatory schooling at the primary and secondary level — the forerunner of Ontario’s current school system. He also founded the Provincial Normal School (1847), which eventually became the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE). Ryerson also served as principal of Victoria College, which he helped found in 1836 as the Upper Canada Academy. He was also, however, involved in the development of residential schools in Canada. This has led to increasing calls to rename Ryerson University and other institutions named in his honour.

Article

Stanley Vollant

Stanley Vollant, CQ, Innu surgeon, professor and lecturer (born 2 April 1965 in Quebec City, Quebec). Vollant is the first Indigenous surgeon trained in Quebec. In 1996, he received a National Aboriginal Role Model Award from the Governor General of Canada. Vollant began Innu Meshkenu in 2010, a 6,000 km walk to promote the teachings of First Nations and to encourage Indigenous young people to pursue their dreams. In 2016, he founded the non-profit organization Puamun Meshkenu to inspire and support Indigenous peoples in their mental and physical health.

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The Underground Railroad (Plain-Language Summary)

The Underground Railroad was a secret organization. It was made up of people who helped African Americans escape from slavery in the southern United States. The people in this organization set up a system of routes that escaped slaves could travel to find freedom in the northern United States and Canada. In the 1800s (the 19th century) between 30,000 and 40,000 escaped slaves traveled to British North America (Canada) through the Underground Railroad.

(This article is a plain-language summary of the Underground Railroad in Canada. If you are interested in reading about this topic in more depth, please see our full-length entry on The Underground Railroad.)

Article

Molly Sclater

Mary Lindsay "Molly" Sclater, teacher, author, organist-choirmaster (born 28 December 1912 in Edinburgh, Scotland; died 31 March 2002 in Jackson's Point, ON). ATCM 1938, ACCO ca 1938, B MUS (Toronto) 1939.

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Garry Neill Kennedy

Garry Neill Kennedy, CM, artist, teacher (born 6 November 1935 in St. Catharines, ON; died 8 August 2021 in Vancouver, BC). Garry Neill Kennedy was an award-winning conceptual artist. His work earned a Governor General's Award in Visual and Media Arts and was presented at the National Gallery of Canada. Kennedy was also president (1967–90) of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD) in Halifax. He is credited with transforming the conservative and traditional art school into an energetic and internationally renowned avant-garde institution. Kennedy was made a Member of the Order of Canada in 2003.

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Gérard Bouchard

Gérard Bouchard, Québécois historian and sociologist, internationally renowned public intellectual (born 26 December 1943 in Jonquière, Quebec). His work covers a variety of topics, namely nationalism, collective identity and imaginary, the Québécois society and diversity management. In 2007-2008, Bouchard and philosopher Charles Taylor co-chaired the Consultation Commission on Accommodation Practices Related to Cultural Differences in Quebec.

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Resistance and Residential Schools

Residential schools were government-sponsored religious schools that many Indigenous children were forced to attend. They were established to assimilate Indigenous children into Euro-Canadian culture. Indigenous parents and children did not simply accept the residential-school system. Indigenous peoples fought against – and engaged with – the state, schools and other key players in the system. For the duration of the residential-school era, parents acted in the best interests of their children and communities. The children responded in ways that would allow them to survive.

Article

Hugh Fraser

Hugh Alexander Fraser, pianist, trombonist, composer, teacher (born 26 October 1958 in Victoria, BC; died 17 June 2020). Two-time Juno Award-winner Hugh Fraser enjoyed great success with his 13-piece big band Vancouver Ensemble of Jazz Improvisation (VEJI, or “Veggie”) and with the Hugh Fraser Quintet. He composed over 200 jazz works, including many commissions, and taught at the Banff Centre for the Arts, the Royal Academy of Music in London, and the University of Victoria. He set up the diploma jazz program at the Victoria Conservatory of Music in 2001. Jazz Report named Fraser Canadian trombonist of the year in 1996 and 1998.

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James George Eayrs

James George Eayrs, political scientist, educator (born 13 October 1926 in London, England; died 6 February 2021 in Toronto, ON). Educated at the University of Toronto, Columbia and London School of Economics, Eayrs was Eric Dennis Memorial Professor of Political Science and Government at Dalhousie University. He taught at the University of Toronto (1952–80) and at Dalhousie University (1980–92) and was editor of the International Journal (1959–84).