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Article

Indigenous Language Revitalization in Canada

Before European settlement in Canada, Indigenous peoples spoke a wide variety of languages. As a means of assimilating Indigenous peoples, colonial policies like the Indian Act and residential schools forbid the speaking of Indigenous languages. These restrictions have led to the ongoing endangerment of Indigenous languages in Canada. In 2016, Statistics Canada reported that for about 40 Indigenous languages in Canada, there are only about 500 speakers or less. Indigenous communities and various educational institutions have taken measures to prevent more language loss and to preserve Indigenous languages.

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Black Canadian Theatre

With the emergence of the Black Theatre Workshop in the late 1960s, Black theatre began to flourish across Canada, providing dynamic venues for the work of Black playwrights, directors, and actors.

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Asian Canadian Theatre

Asian Canadian theatre started early in the 20th century with lavish performances of traditional Cantonese operas. Today, Asian Canadian playwrights like Ins Choi address the struggles of everyday life in Canada.

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Arrowhead Sash

Traditionally made of wool and intricately finger-woven into a colourful lengthwise “zigzag” pattern, they have numerous names, including “arrowhead,” “Indian,” “Métis” and “voyageur” sashes.

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A Married Couple

A Married Couple (1969) is director Allan King’s groundbreaking direct cinema documentary about a relationship in turmoil. The film records 10 weeks in the personal and domestic struggles of Toronto couple Billy and Antoinette Edwards, and their young son, Bogart. A Married Couple became a benchmark in direct cinema filmmaking for its unprecedented ability to capture moments of conflict and intimacy. Originally made for television, it was released theatrically and gained international recognition. In 2016, it was named one of 150 essential works in Canadian cinema history in a poll conducted by the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).

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Art and Decoration

The decorative arts, it is commonly assumed, have two features that are at odds with what we think of as fine art: decorative art is typically associated with function and its purpose is to project a style or mood rather than to transmit meaning and incite dialogue.

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Pit House

A pit house is a type of dwelling historically used by various Indigenous peoples living in the Plateau region of Canada. Partially built into the ground, pit houses provided warmth and shelter during the winter season. While pit houses no longer serve as common dwellings, they retain cultural significance for many Indigenous peoples. Archeological remains and replicas of pit houses can be found in various parts of Canada. (See also Architectural History of Indigenous Peoples in Canada.)

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Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN)

Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) is the world’s first Indigenous national broadcaster dedicated to Indigenous programming. First broadcast on 1 September 1999 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, APTN provides various content, including news, dramas and documentaries. Aimed at diverse audiences, APTN offers programming in Indigenous languages, English and French. It broadcasts into more than 11 million Canadian households and businesses, a significant portion of which are located in remote areas. APTN mainly generates revenue for operations through subscriber fees, advertising sales and partnerships.

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Editorial: Canadian Art and the Great War

Canadian painting in the 19th century tended towards the pastoral. It depicted idyllic scenes of rural life and represented the country as a wondrous Eden. Canadian painter Homer Watson, under the influence of such American masters as Frederic Edwin Church and Albert Bierstadt, created images that are serene and suffused with golden light. In On the Mohawk River (1878), for instance, a lazy river ambles between tall, overhanging trees; in the background is a light-struck mountain. In Watson’s world, nature is peaceful, unthreatening and perhaps even sacred.

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Moccasin

Moccasins are a type of footwear often made of animal hide and traditionally made and worn by various Indigenous peoples in Canada. During the fur trade, Europeans adopted these heelless, comfortable walking shoes to keep their feet warm and dry. Moccasins continue to serve as practical outerwear, as well as pieces of fine Indigenous handiwork and artistry.

Macleans

CBC's A People's History

This article was originally published in Maclean’s magazine on October 23, 2000. Partner content is not updated.

The first moments on-screen belong to Shawnadithit, or Nancy, as the whites called her. On a winter's day in 1823, the 22-year-old Beothuk walked into the Newfoundland outport of Exploits Bay, starving and bearing the scars of gunshot wounds received on two separate occasions.

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CBC Cuts Announced

This article was originally published in Maclean’s magazine on September 30, 1996. Partner content is not updated.

Perrin Beatty was smiling as he entered the plush Toronto hotel room. And as he concluded his speech to reporters last week, it was clear that he was trying to spin the radical changes at the CANADIAN BROADCASTING CORP. into a good news-bad news proposition.

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Joual

Joual is the name given, in specific sociological and socio-historical situations, to the variety of French spoken in Québec.

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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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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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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.