Browse "Indigenous People"
Eva Aariak, politician, second premier of Nunavut (born 10 January 1955 in Arctic Bay, Northwest Territories [now Nunavut]). Eva Aariak has the distinction of being Nunavut’s first female premier, and she has been instrumental in the promotion of Inuit languages in the territory. (See also Inuktitut and Indigenous Languages in Canada.)
Floyd Roland, mechanic, politician, premier of Northwest Territories 2007 to 2011, mayor of Inuvik 2012 to 2015 (born 23 November 1961 in Inuvik, NWT). Roland sat in the Northwest Territories legislature for 12 years before becoming premier on 18 October 2007. His premiership was marred by a scandal over an affair between Roland and a clerk of the legislature.
Fontaine Elected New Grand Chief
Phil Fontaine had every reason to look haggard and humble as he donned his ornate feathered headdress last week to become the new national chief of the ASSEMBLY OF FIRST NATIONS.
Frank Arthur Calder, OC,
Nisga’a politician, chief, businessman (born 3 August 1915, Nass Harbour, BC; died 4 November 2006 in Victoria,
BC). Frank Calder was the first Indigenous member of the BC legislature, elected in 1949. Calder is best known for his role in the Nisga’a Tribal Council’s Supreme Court case
against the province of British Columbia (commonly known as the Calder
case), which demonstrated that Aboriginal
title (i.e., ownership) to traditional lands exists in modern Canadian law.
Georges Henry Erasmus, OC, Indigenous leader, activist and spokesperson (born 8 August 1948 in Fort Rae, NT). Erasmus has been a leading advocate for the self-determination of Indigenous peoples in Canada. He has served as the head of several Indigenous public policy organizations, including the Dene Nation and the Assembly of First Nations. He also served as the co-chair for the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples.
Gerald Stanley and Colten Boushie Case
On 9 February 2018, Gerald Stanley, a white farmer from rural Saskatchewan, was acquitted of murder and manslaughter in the killing of a 22-year-old Cree man, Colten Boushie. The acquittal caused great controversy but was not appealed by prosecutors. However, it led the Justin Trudeau government to abolish the peremptory challenges that allowed Stanley to keep five Indigenous people off the all-white jury that acquitted him.
Gertrude Guerin (née Ettershank; traditional name Klaw-law-we-leth; also known as “Old War Horse”), chief, politician, community advocate, elder (born 26 March 1917 on the Mission Reserve in North Vancouver, BC; died 25 January 1998). Guerin, born into the Squamish First Nation (see Central Coast Salish), was a fierce protector of Indigenous people and culture. She represented the Musqueam nation locally as an elected chief, and on the national stage in challenges to Canadian jurisdiction over traditional Musqueam territory (see Coast Salish).
Gloria Mary Maureen George, Indigenous politician, activist and public servant (born 24 July 1942 in Hubert, BC). A tireless advocate for non-status Indians, George was elected president of the Native Council of Canada in 1975, becoming the first and only woman to lead a major Indigenous political organization.
Harold Cardinal, Cree chief, lawyer, author (born on 27 January 1945 in High Prairie, AB; died on 3 June 2005 in Edmonton, AB). An Indigenous rights activist, Cardinal was a leader in the movement against the 1969 White Paper, which sought to do away with Indian Status and treaty rights. Cardinal was actively involved in Indigenous politics for much of his life and is remembered as a strong and inspirational leader.
Harry Wilfred Daniels, politician, writer, actor (born 16 September 1940 in Regina Beach, SK; died 6 September 2004 in Regina Beach). Daniels was a celebrated Métis politician and activist who fought for the rights of Métis people. His greatest contribution to Indigenous rights in Canada was the Supreme Court case Daniels v. Canada, which guaranteed that Métis and Non-Status Indians are considered “Indian” under the Constitution Act, 1867.
Helen Mamayaok Maksagak
Helen Mamayaok Maksagak, CM, politician, public servant, community leader (born 15 April 1931 in Bernard Harbour, NT [NU]; died 23 January 2009 in Cambridge Bay, NU). Maksagak was the first woman and Inuk to serve as the commissioner of the Northwest Territories. A vocal and engaged advocate for Inuit affairs, she contributed to efforts to establish Nunavut as Canada’s third territory in the 1990s. In March of 1999, she was chosen as the first commissioner of the newly created Nunavut territory; her term lasted until March 2000. Maksagak returned to a formal political role in November 2005, when she was appointed deputy commissioner of Nunavut. In addition to her political career, Maksagak performed advocacy work, focusing on Inuit and, more broadly, Indigenous initiatives, such as improving access to social services.
Henry Arthur Smitheram
Henry Arthur Smitheram, "Butch," politician, public servant (b at Penticton, BC 8 Jan 1918; d at Keremeos, BC 14 Mar 1982). Smitheram was a nonstatus Indian, his Okanagan mother having lost her status upon marrying his English father.
Indian Act (Plain-Language Summary)
The Indian Act was created in 1876. The main goal of the Act was to force the First Nations peoples to lose their culture and become like Euro-Canadians. The Indian Act has been changed many times. It does not affect either the Métis or Inuit.
James Basil Gladstone, Kainai (Blood) interpreter, farmer, rancher, Indigenous rights advocate, senator (born 21 May 1887 at Mountain Mill, North-West Territories; died 4 September 1971 at Fernie, BC) was of mixed Scottish-Cree-French Canadian ancestry. Gladstone devoted most of his life to the betterment of Indigenous peoples in Canada and was appointed the country’s first senator with Indian Status.
James McKay, Manitoba Métis politician, interpreter, guide, fur trader, Hudson’s Bay Company clerk and postmaster (born 5 February 1828 in Edmonton House, Alberta; died 2 December 1879 at St. James, Manitoba). A member of the Council of Assiniboia (1868–69), James McKay played a moderating role during the Red River Rebellion. He also served Manitoba as president of the Executive Council, Speaker of the Legislative Council and Minister of Agriculture, and was on the Council of the North-West Territories from 1873–75. Fluent in various Indigenous languages, McKay helped negotiate Treaties 1, 2 and 3 in the early 1870s. As a treaty commissioner for Treaties 5 and 6, he added provisions to help Indigenous peoples with medical supplies in the event of an epidemic, with famine relief and with their new life on reserves. McKay’s life and career exemplified attempts by Métis leaders, both in commerce and politics, to adapt to rapid changes after Confederation.
Jody Wilson-Raybould (“Puglaas” or “woman born of noble people” or “woman with integrity” in Kwak’wala), politician, lawyer (born 23 March 1971 in Vancouver, BC). Jody Wilson-Raybould is the independent MP for Vancouver Granville. She was federal minister of justice, attorney general and minister of veterans affairs in the government of Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Prior to her career in federal politics, she was a BC crown prosecutor, regional chief of the Assembly of First Nations, and member of the BC Treaty Commission. As Canada’s first Indigenous justice minister, Wilson-Raybould introduced groundbreaking legislation, including Bill C-14 on medically assisted dying, C-16 on gender identity and human rights, and C-45, The Cannabis Act. She has helped to build bridges between First Nations communities and the Canadian government and is committed to helping Indigenous peoples seek self-government and gain equality in education, health care and legal rights.
John Brant (Ahyonwaeghs)
John Brant (Ahyonwaeghs), Mohawk Grand Chief, Indian Superintendent (b near Brantford, Ont, 27 Sep 1794; d there 27 Aug 1832). John Brant was the son of Joseph Brant, Mohawk chieftain and the first Aboriginal to receive a commission in the British Army, as a captain in 1757.
John Callihoo, politician, Indigenous-rights leader (born on Michel First Nation, Alberta 1882; died in St Albert, Alberta 11 Aug 1957). Of Haudenosaunee-Cree descent and self-educated, he was a freighter and then a farmer, but his leadership capabilities soon made him a rallying point for Indigenous causes.