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Red Dress Day

Red Dress Day, also known as the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and Two-Spirit People, is observed on May 5th. The day honours and brings awareness to the thousands of Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit people who have been subject to disproportionate violence in Canada. Red Dress Day was inspired by Métis artist Jaime Black’s REDress Project installation, in which she hung empty, red dresses to represent the missing and murdered women. Red dresses have become symbolic of the crisis as a result of her installation.

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Jose Kusugak

Jose Amaujaq Kusugak, Inuk politician, community leader, teacher, activist, linguist and broadcaster (born 2 May 1950 in Repulse Bay, NT [now Naujaat, NU]; died 18 or 19 January 2011 in Rankin Inlet, Kivalliq, NU). Kusugak was president of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. from 1994 to 2000. This was the organization responsible for negotiating and implementing the land claim that ultimately resulted in the creation of Nunavut in 1999. For this reason, some consider Kusugak a Father of Confederation. He was also a lifelong advocate for Inuit rights, language and culture.

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Northern Youth Abroad

Northern Youth Abroad is a registered not-for-profit charity. Since 1998, it has provided education and travel opportunities for over 550 young people, aged 15 to 22, from every community in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories. The programs are designed to foster cross-cultural awareness and global citizenship, while building the self-confidence and self-esteem necessary to help develop life and career goals.

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Charles Edenshaw (Tahayren)

​Charles (Charlie) Edenshaw (Haida name, Tahayren), Haida chief and master artist (born 1839 in Skidegate, Haida Gwaii, BC; died 10 September 1920 in Masset, Haida Gwaii, BC). Edenshaw was among the first professional Haida artists. He was noted for his flawless execution of dynamic flowing forms in an otherwise strict and disciplined art tradition. Many of Edenshaw’s descendants also became artists, including his daughter Florence Davidson, his grandson Claude Davidson, his great-grandsons Reggie and Robert Davidson and his great-great nephew Bill Reid.

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Howard Sinclair Anderson (Primary Source)

Howard Sinclair Anderson was under age when he enlisted in the army after the chief of George Gordon Reserve, a veteran of the First World War, went around looking for volunteers. Anderson became a Lance Corporal in the Royal Canadian Army Service Corps during the Second World War. Discover his story of serving in France after D-Day and the discrimination he faced after returning.

Please be advised that Memory Project primary sources may deal with personal testimony that reflect the speaker’s recollections and interpretations of events. Individual testimony does not necessarily reflect the views of the Memory Project and Historica Canada.

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Blackfoot Confederacy

The Blackfoot Confederacy, sometimes referred to as the Blackfoot Nation or Siksikaitsitapi, is comprised of three Indigenous nations, the Kainai, Piikani and Siksika. People of the Blackfoot Nation refer to themselves as Niitsitapi, meaning “the real people,” a generic term for all Indigenous people, or Siksikaitsitapi, meaning “Blackfoot-speaking real people.” The Confederacy’s traditional territory spans parts of southern Alberta and Saskatchewan, as well as northern Montana. In the 2016 census, 22,490 people identified as having Blackfoot ancestry.

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Dinjii Zhuh (Gwich'in)

Dinjii Zhuh (also Gwich’in, formerly Kutchin), meaning “one who dwells (in)” or “the inhabitant of,” are Dene (Athabaskan)-speaking Indigenous peoples who live in northwestern North America. These communities are often referred to collectively as Dinjii Zhuh, although some First Nations and the Gwich’in Tribal Council retain the Gwich’in name. There are thought to be between 7,000 and 9,000 Dinjii Zhuh living in communities in Alaska, Yukon and the Northwest Territories.

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Abenaki

Abenaki (also referred to as Wobanaki or Wabanaki) take their name from a word in their own language meaning “dawn-land people” or “people from the east.” Their traditional lands included parts of southeastern Quebec, western Maine and northern New England. As of 2021, the total registered population of Abenaki people on the Wôlinak and Odanak reserves in Quebec is 469 and 2,747, respectively.

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Heiltsuk (Bella Bella)

The Heiltsuk are Indigenous people who have occupied a part of the central coast of British Columbia in the vicinity of Milbanke Sound and Fisher Channel. Historically, Europeans referred to the Heiltsuk as the Bella Bella, a term anglicized from the name of a site located near the present-day community of the same name. As of October 2021, the registered population of the Heiltsuk nation was 2,494.

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Nisga'a

The Nisga’a are the original occupants of the Nass River Valley of Northwestern British Columbia. As of 2011, 1,909 Nisga’a continue to live on traditional lands in this area. Granted self-government in a landmark case in 2000, the Nisga’a Lisims Government now governs the Nisga’a nation.

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The Neutral Confederacy

The Neutral Confederacy was a political and cultural union of Iroquoian nations who lived in the Hamilton-Niagara district of southwestern Ontario and across the Niagara River to western New York before their dispersal by the Seneca in the mid-17th century. Some surviving Neutral migrated west and south, where they were absorbed by various Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) communities. As a result of this dispersal, information about pre-contact Neutral history comes mainly from Jesuit records and archaeological excavations.

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Sekani

Sekani, also known as the Tsek'ehne which means "people of the rocks or mountains," were first contacted by Alexander Mackenzie in 1793. They consisted of several family groups or bands, each of 30-40 persons, who hunted and traded along the Finlay and Parsnip tributaries of the Peace River.

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Indigenous Peoples' Medicine in Canada

Since time immemorial Indigenous peoples in Canada have been using plants and other natural materials as medicine. Plant medicines are used more frequently than those derived from animals. In all, Indigenous peoples have identified over 400 different species of plants (as well as lichens, fungi and algae) with medicinal applications. Medicine traditions — the plants used, the ailments treated, protocols for harvesting and application, and modes of preparation — are similar for Indigenous peoples across the country. In many Indigenous communities, there are recognized specialists trained in traditional medicine, and their practice often reflects spiritual aspects of healing as well as physical outcomes. In many cases, the therapeutic properties of Indigenous medicines are attributable to particular compounds and their effects on the body, but in other instances, their application is little understood by western medical practitioners. Within Indigenous communities, specific methods of harvesting and preparation of medicines are considered intellectual property of particular individuals or families.

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Angela Sidney (Stóow Ch’óonehte’ Máa)

Angela Sidney (née Johns), (Stóow Ch’óonehte’ Máa), CM, Elder, storyteller, author (born 4 January 1902 near Carcross, YT; died 17 July 1991 in Whitehorse, YT). Of Tagish and Tlingit descent, Sidney was one of the last fluent speakers of the Tagish language. A storyteller, Sidney recorded and preserved the stories, traditions, languages, place names and genealogies of her people. She was the first Indigenous woman from Yukon to be appointed to the Order of Canada.

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Marie-Anne Day Walker-Pelletier

Marie-Anne Day Walker-Pelletier, CM, chief (born 15 April 1954 in Regina, SK). Day Walker-Pelletier is the longest-serving elected chief in Canadian history. She was chief of Okanese First Nation, located near Fort Qu’Appelle, Saskatchewan, from 1981 to 2020. During her long career, Day Walker-Pelletier accomplished many goals, including establishing the structure, instruments and policies of governance for Okanese First Nation. She also took part in numerous projects related to wellness, social reform and education, focusing primarily on providing support to vulnerable women and children. Day Walker-Pelletier has been a strong advocate for preserving the language, traditions, and treaty rights of Okanese First Nation.

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Tahltan

Tahltan are Dene, an Indigenous people in Canada. Tahltan have traditionally occupied an area of northwestern British Columbia centered on the Stikine River. Although the Tahltan use several terms to refer to themselves, the designation "Tahltan" comes from the language of their neighbours, the Tlingit. Today, the Tahltan Central Government represents the interests of the Tahltan members, both on and off reserve.

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Beothuk

Beothuk (meaning “the people” or “true people” in their language) were an Indigenous people who traditionally inhabited Newfoundland. At the time of European contact in the 16th century, the Beothuk may have numbered no more than 500 to 1,000. Their population is difficult to estimate owing to a reduction in their territories in the early contact period. While it has been said that the Beothuk are now extinct, Mi’kmaq oral tradition denies this claim. Indigenous oral histories teach that the Beothuk intermarried with other Indigenous nations along the mainland after they had been forced out of their coastal territories by settlers. According to this perspective, Beothuk descendants live on in other Indigenous communities.

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Cree Language

The Cree language (also called Cree-Montagnais-Naskapi) is spoken in many parts of Canada, from the Rocky Mountains in the west to Labrador in the east. Cree is also spoken in northern Montana in the United States. Often written in syllabics (i.e., symbols representing a combination of consonant and vowel, or just a consonant or vowel), Cree is one of the most widely spoken Indigenous languages in Canada. In the 2016 census, 96,575 people reported speaking Cree.