Communities & Sociology | The Canadian Encyclopedia

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  • Article

    Wayne Adams

    F. Wayne Adams, CM, ONS, politician, activist, journalist, entrepreneur (born 1943 in Halifax, NS). Wayne Adams has been an entrepreneur, a broadcast journalist, a municipal and provincial politician, and an environmental activist. He was the first Black Canadian elected to the Nova Scotia legislature and to serve in its cabinet. He was made a Member of the Order of Canada and has received the Order of Nova Scotia.

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  • Article

    We Demand

    We Demand was a 13-page document that called for changes to discriminatory federal laws and policies concerning gays, bisexuals, and lesbians in Canada. The brief, which contained ten points, was presented to the federal government in 1971. It set a national strategy that was pursued for decades until all the demands were met.

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  • Article

    William Andrew White

    William Andrew White, Baptist minister and army chaplain (born 16 June 1874 in King and Queen Court House, VA; died 9 September 1936 in Halifax, NS). White was a leading member of the African Nova Scotian community. He was chaplain for the No. 2 Construction Battalion, making him one of the few Black officers in the Canadian Expeditionary Force during the First World War.

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  • Article

    Arthur Goss

    Arthur Goss documented the poor living conditions of immigrant families and the impact of poverty on the health and welfare of children in impoverished areas of Toronto like St. John’s Ward for the Department of Public Health.

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  • Article

    Willie Dunn

    William Lawrence “Willie” Dunn (a.k.a. Roha’tiio, meaning “his voice is beautiful”) musician, filmmaker (born 14 August 1941 in Montreal, QC; died 5 August 2013 in Ottawa, ON). Willie Dunn was a folk musician of Mi’kmaq-Scottish origin. He was also a leading member of the Indian Film Crew, an all-Indigenous film production unit established by the National Film Board in 1968.

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  • Article

    William Pearly Oliver

    William Pearly Oliver, CM, minister, army chaplain and community organizer (born 11 February 1912 in Wolfville, Nova Scotia; died 26 May 1989 in Lucasville). Oliver was a social activist, educator and minister. He cofounded the Nova Scotia Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NSAACP) and the Black United Front (BUF). He was also instrumental in the creation of the Black Cultural Society and the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia.

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  • Article

    Willie Adams

    Willie Adams, OC, Liberal senator, businessman, electrician (born 22 June 1934 in Kuujjuaq [then Fort Chimo] in Nunavik, Quebec). As Canada’s first Inuit senator, Adams frequently sought greater federal government support for his people in education, health care, infrastructure, land claims, fishery allocations and affordable food, housing and fuel. He was actively involved in the creation of Nunavut and supported Inuit language rights, art and culture, and traditional hunting methods such as sealing.

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  • Article

    Willie O'Ree

    Willie O’Ree, CM, ONB, hockey player (born 15 October 1935 in Fredericton, NB). On 18 January 1958, Willie O’Ree became the first Black hockey player to play in the National Hockey League (NHL). He played professional hockey for more than 20 years, including 45 games with the Boston Bruins. Since 1998, O’Ree has been the NHL’s Director of Youth Development and ambassador for NHL Diversity. He is a Member of both the Order of Canada and the Order of New Brunswick. He has been inducted into the New Brunswick Sports Hall of Fame, the Hockey Hall of Fame and Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame. The Boston Bruins retired O’Ree’s No. 22 on 18 January 2022, the 64th anniversary of his first NHL game.

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  • Article

    Wilton Littlechild

    Jacob Wilton (Willie) Littlechild, CC, AOE, athlete, lawyer, Cree chief, politician, advocate for Indigenous rights (born 1 April 1944 in Hobbema, [now Maskwacîs] AB). Littlechild formed and coached Alberta’s first all-Indigenous junior hockey team and created the National Indian Athletic Association. He is a member of seven sports halls of fame. In 1976, Littlechild earned a law degree from the University of Alberta. He went on to become the first member of Parliament with Treaty Indian Status in Canada in 1988. Littlechild served as a commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2009. Throughout his career, Littlechild has promoted Indigenous rights both nationally and internationally.

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  • Article

    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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  • Article

    Women and the Fur Trade

    An Algonquin man declared to Jesuit missionary Paul Le Jeune in 1639: “To live among us without a wife is to live without help, without home and to be always wandering.” While the importance of having a home and wife may have been lost on the itinerant and celibate Jesuit priest, for many First Nations this quote evokes the social, economic and political advantages of marriages, especially in the context of the fur trade. Indigenous women’s labour produced and mended clothing, preserved meats, harvested maple sugar and root vegetables like turnips, trapped small game, netted fish and cultivated wild rice — all crucial survival and subsistence activities in the boreal forests, prairie parklands and northern plains of fur trade society. Through intraclan marriages (see Clan), First Nations women forged extended kin lineages, established social obligations and reciprocal ties, and negotiated for the access and use of common resources across a vast and interconnected Indigenous world. Marriages between different Indigenous villages, clans and nations shaped regional politics, fostered lateral marital alliances and created a geographically diverse and widespread kinship network throughout the Great Lakes- St. Lawrence River Basin, the Hudson Bay watershed, and the Pacific Slope (see Pacific Ocean and Canada.)

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  • Article

    Women and the Indian Act

    The Indian Act has affected Indigenous cultures, systems of governance, societies and ways of life since its enactment in 1876. Gender discrimination in the Act further disadvantaged First Nations women, in particular. Until 1985, women with Indian status who married someone without status lost their status rights. Men, on the other hand, did not lose Indian status in the same way. Even after Bill C-31 reinstated the status rights of many women in 1985, the Act still discriminated against women by privileging male lines of descent. Amendments in 2011 and 2017 sought to fix these issues. In 2019, the federal government brought into force the remaining part of Bill S-3, which is meant to address lingering sex-based inequities in the Indian Act. (See also Indigenous Women’s Issues.)

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  • Editorial

    Women on Canadian Banknotes

    The following article is an editorial written by The Canadian Encyclopedia staff. Editorials are not usually updated. Though Queen Elizabeth II has appeared on the $20 bill since she was eight years old, identifiable Canadian women have only appeared on a Canadian banknote once. In 2004, the statue of the Famous Five from Parliament Hill and Olympic Plaza in Calgary, and the medal for the Thérèse Casgrain Volunteer Award were featured on the back of the $50 note. They were the first Canadian women to appear on our currency. However, in 2011, they were replaced by an icebreaker named for a man (see Roald Amundsen). The new bill was part of a series of notes meant to highlight technical innovation and achievement, but the change sparked controversy. Other than the image of a nameless female scientist on the $100 note issued in 2011, and two female Canadian Forces officers and a young girl on the $10 bill issued in 2001 , Canadian women were absent from Canadian bills. On 8 March 2016, International Women’s Day, the Bank of Canada launched a public consultation to choose an iconic Canadian woman who would be featured on a banknote, released in the next series of bills in 2018. More than 26,000 submissions poured in. Of those, 461 names met the qualifying criteria, and the list was pared down to a long list of 12 and finally a short list of five. The final selection will be announced on 8 December 2016. But how did we get here?

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  • Article

    Won Alexander Cumyow

    Won Alexander Cumyow (溫金有), activist and interpreter (born around 21 March 1861 in Port Douglas, BC; died 6 October 1955 in Vancouver). Won Cumyow was the first Chinese Canadian born in British North America, which became Canada. He knew several languages, which assisted his work as a Chinese community leader and court interpreter.

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  • Article

    Xavier Dolan

    Xavier Dolan (born Xavier Dolan-Tadros), CM, actor, director, writer, producer, editor, costume designer (born 20 March 1989 in Montreal, QC). A precocious practitioner of auteurist art cinema, Xavier Dolan garnered international acclaim at age 20 for his debut feature, J’ai tué ma mère (I Killed My Mother, 2009). His next four award-winning films — Les amours imaginaires (Heartbeats, 2010), Laurence Anyways (2012), Tom à la ferme (Tom at the Farm, 2013) and Mommy (2014) — were completed by the time he was 25. His sixth movie, Juste la fin du monde (It’s Only the End of the World, 2016), won the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival and six Canadian Screen Awards. Dolan has also directed notable music videos for Adele and won a 2022 Juno Award for “Easy On Me.” He was made a Member of the Order of Canada in 2019.

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