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Matt Cohen

​Matt Cohen, novelist, short story writer, poet, author of children’s books (born 30 December 1942 in Kingston, ON; died 2 December 1999 in Toronto, ON).

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Denis Côté

Denis Côté, writer, producer, director, critic (born 16 November 1973 in Grand Falls, NB). Filmmaker Denis Côté has won acclaim and awards in Canada and internationally for his independent features and documentaries. He is known as an uncompromising and prolific maverick who challenges audiences rather than offering crystal clear, classically structured narratives. A former film critic, Côté writes, directs and produces films that are starkly minimalist, strangely poetic, dryly funny and thematically enigmatic. His deadpan style and marginalized characters have earned him an international reputation as one of Canada’s leading auteurs.

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Don McManus

Donald Leslie McManus, bass, actor (born 30 August 1932 in Edmonton, AB; died 24 February 2020 in Toronto, ON). While studying voice 1950-8 in Vancouver with Anna Nicholls and William Morton, he made his acting debut (1952) at TUTS. Dramatic and singing engagements followed with such organizations as the Vancouver International Festival (1958, Commendatore in Don Giovanni), the Bastion Theatre in Victoria, the Vancouver Opera, Melodyland in Berkeley, Cal, and the J.C. Williamson Theatre Co in Australia, which invited him to perform in several Gilbert & Sullivan operettas.

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Wayson Choy

Wayson Choy, CM, writer, teacher (born 20 April 1939 in Vancouver. BC; died 28 April 2019 in Toronto, ON). Wayson Choy was an influential Chinese Canadian novelist, memoirist and short-story writer. His debut novel, The Jade Peony (1995), tells an intimate tale of an immigrant family living in Vancouver’s Chinatown during the Second World War. It won the Trillium Book Award and the City of Vancouver Book Award in 1996. His second novel, All That Matters (2004), won the Trillium Book Award and was shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize. His first memoir, Paper Shadows: A Chinatown Childhood (1999), won the Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction. An openly gay man, Choy was also an advocate for LGBTQ2S rights as well as a dedicated teacher and mentor.

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Dan Hill

Daniel Grafton Hill IV, singer, songwriter, guitarist, writer (born 3 June 1954 in Toronto, ON). Dan Hill is a successful adult contemporary singer and songwriter. Known for his plaintive voice and unabashedly sentimental lyrics, he achieved international stardom at age 23 with the hit single “Sometimes When We Touch.” In addition to his solo work, Hill has enjoyed a long career as a pop and country songwriter. He has amassed over 100 million in sales for his songs, which have been recorded by such artists as Céline Dion, Britney Spears, Alan Jackson and Reba McEntire. Hill has won five Juno Awards, a Grammy Award, five SOCAN Awards for outstanding radio airplay in Canada, and six ASCAP Awards for airplay in the United States. He was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2021.

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Kim Thúy

Kim Thúy, CQ, writer (born 18 September 1968 in Saigon, Vietnam). The winner of several prestigious literary awards for her first novel, Ru, this Quebec writer of Vietnamese origin is known for her short and elegant stories. Her novels deal with the migrant experience and the challenges of adapting to a new culture. Written in French, which Thúy calls her “second mother tongue,” they have been translated into 15 languages.

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Mordecai Richler

Mordecai Richler, CC, novelist, essayist, social critic (born 27 January 1931 in Montréal, QC; died 3 July 2001 in Montréal, QC). A singular figure in Canadian literary and cultural history, Richler remained, in the words of critic Robert Fulford, “the loyal opposition to the governing principles of Canadian culture” throughout his long and productive career. His instincts were to ask hard, uncomfortable questions and to take clear, often unpopular moral positions. Born into an Orthodox family in Montréal’s old Jewish neighborhood, a community he immortalized in his work, he was from the start a complex and uncompromising figure, at once rejecting many of the formal tenets of his faith while embracing its intellectual and ethical rigour. That tension, along with an innately absurdist vision of life, a raw, bracing comedic sensibility, and a fearlessness about speaking his mind, as both artist and citizen, ensured that nearly every word he published displayed a distinctive sensibility. No one else sounded like Mordecai Richler, and few other writers in Canada have ever demanded, and maintained, such a high profile as both an admired literary novelist and a frequently controversial critic. A Companion of the  Order of Canada, two-time winner of the Governor General’s Award (1968 and 1971), and winner of the Giller Prize, Mordecai Richler is without question one of Canada’s greatest writers.

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Jay Silverheels

Jay Silverheels, actor (born on 26 May 1919 on the Six Nations reserve; died on 5 March 1980 in Woodland Hills, California). Silverheels is perhaps best known for his role as Tonto in the Lone Ranger films.

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Sylvia Hamilton

Sylvia D. Hamilton, filmmaker, writer, educator (born in Beechville, NS). Sylvia Hamilton specializes in re-evaluating Canadian history and focusing on the perspectives of Black Canadians, particularly Black Canadian women. Her films include Black Mother Black Daughter (1989); the Gemini Award winner Speak It! From the Heart of Black Nova Scotia (1993); the biographical documentary Portia White: Think On Me (2000); and The Little Black School House (2007). She has received many honours and awards, including the Nova Scotia Portia White Prize and honorary degrees from several universities.

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Lorena Gale

Lorena Gale, actor, playwright, activist (born 9 May 1958 in Montreal, QC; died 21 June 2009 in Vancouver, BC). Lorena Gale was an award-winning actor and playwright who achieved a strong body of work in Canadian theatre. Her acclaimed 1995 play Angélique tells the story of Marie-Joseph Angélique, an enslaved Black woman who was hanged in Montreal for arson in 1734. Gale spent a season with the Shaw Festival and served as artistic director of Montreal’s Black Theatre Workshop. She also appeared in more than 130 films and television series. In 2009, the Union of BC Performers created the Lorena Gale Woman of Distinction Award in her honour.

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Graeme Ferguson

Ivan Graeme Ferguson, filmmaker, executive (born 7 October 1929 in Toronto, Ontario; died 8 May 2021 in Norway Point, Ontario). Ivan Graeme Ferguson has been the recipient of numerous awards and acclaim for his contributions to the film industry, both in Canada and internationally.

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Claude Jasmin

Claude Jasmin, novelist, playwright, essayist, arts chronicler and scenographer (born at Montréal 10 Nov 1930; died 28-29 April 2021). He received his diploma in applied arts at the École du meuble in Montréal and became a scenographer with Société Radio-Canada in 1956.

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Peter Raymont

Peter Raymont, director, producer, editor, writer (born 28 February 1950 in Ottawa, ON). Peter Raymont is one of Canada’s most accomplished and acclaimed documentary filmmakers. After beginning his career at the NFB, he started his own production company in 1978 and co-founded the Canadian Independent Film Caucus (now the Documentary Organization of Canada) in 1982. He has won four Gemini Awards, an Emmy Award, a Genie Award and a Canadian Screen Award, as well as major prizes at the Sundance Film Festival and the Berlin International Film Festival, among many others.

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Winnifred Eaton (Onoto Watanna)

Winnifred Eaton Babcock Reeve (a.k.a. Onoto Watanna), author, screenwriter (born 21 August 1875 in Montreal, QC; died 8 April 1954 in Butte, Montana). Winnifred Eaton achieved literary fame under the pseudonym Onoto Watanna. She was the first person of Asian descent to publish a novel in the United States — Miss Numè of Japan (1899) — and to reach a mainstream audience. Her novel A Japanese Nightingale (1901) was adapted into a Broadway play and a motion picture. She also wrote screenplays for Hollywood and two novels, Cattle (1924) and His Royal Nibs (1925), about ranching life in Alberta.

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Mary Riter Hamilton

Mary Matilda Hamilton (née Riter), artist (born 7 September c. 1867 in Teeswater, ON; died 5 April 1954 in Coquitlam, BC). Mary Riter Hamilton was a painter who exhibited her works in Europe and across Canada. Shortly after the fighting stopped, Hamilton travelled to Europe to paint First World War battlefield landscapes before they were cleared (see War Artists). She produced over 350 works in three years, which are a document of the destruction and devastation caused by the war.

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Jennifer Hodge de Silva

Jennifer Hodge de Silva, née Hodge, documentary filmmaker (born 28 January 1951 in Montreal, QC; died 5 May 1989 in Montreal). Jennifer Hodge de Silva was a pioneering African Canadian filmmaker of the 1970s and 1980s. She was the first Black filmmaker to work consistently with both the National Film Board and the CBC. She produced an acclaimed and influential body of work known as realist social issue documentary. Her highly regarded film Home Feeling: A Struggle for Community (1983), co-directed with Robert McTair, is widely taught in film studies programs throughout Canada.

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Stan Rogers

Stanley Allison Rogers, singer, songwriter (born 29 November 1949 in Hamilton, ON; died 2 June 1983 in Hebron, Kentucky). One of Canada’s finest singer-songwriters, Stan Rogers was known for his rich baritone voice and finely crafted folk songs, often written and performed in a traditional Celtic style. He is perhaps best known for the rousing a cappella anthem “Northwest Passage.” Concerned with themes of honour, loyalty and hope, Rogers drew on historic and poetic aspects of the Canadian experience. His music never received widespread radio airplay and was largely unknown outside of folk music circles during his lifetime. His legend grew after his tragic death in an airplane fire in 1983. He was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2019.