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Bertha Skye, cook, entrepreneur, Indigenous Elder (born 1932 on Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation, SK). From a young age, Skye learned to cook and used her talent to feed those in her community. She was chosen to participate in the 1992 Culinary Olympics, where she and her teammates won several medals, including a gold for Skye’s corn, bean, and squash soup (also know as Three Sisters soup). Among other advisory positions, Skye has served as an Elder in Residence at various post-secondary institutions in Ontario.
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.
Freda Diesing, Haida artist (born 2 June 1925 in Prince Rupert, BC; died there 3 December 2002). Diesing was best known for her contributions to reviving traditional Haida art forms, including wood carving, mask carving and totem carving. She was one of the few women carvers who mastered the medium, and was partly responsible for bringing the style to an international audience. Diesing worked to ensure the style and tradition of Haida art was passed on to new generations. (See also Northwest Coast Indigenous Art and Contemporary Indigenous Art in Canada.)
Olive Patricia Dickason (née Williamson), CM, Métis journalist, historian, university professor, author (born 6 March 1920 in Winnipeg, MB; died 12 March 2011 in Ottawa, ON). Dickason was the first scholar in Canada to receive a PhD in Indigenous history. Her ground-breaking research and books about Indigenous and Métis history and culture transformed how Canadians perceive the origin of their country and Indigenous peoples. Dickason’s work inspired a new generation of scholars, helping to launch Indigenous studies as an area of scholarly research. She received an Order of Canada in recognition of her achievements.
Arsinée Khanjian, actor (b at Beirut, Lebanon 6 Sept 1958). Arsinée Khanjian grew up in Beirut and attended Armenian National and Catholic schools until she was 17 years old, when her family immigrated to Canada and settled in Montréal.
Maria Campbell, O.C., Cree-Métis writer, playwright, filmmaker, scholar, teacher and elder (born 26 April 1940 in Park Valley, SK). Campbell’s memoir Halfbreed (1973) is regarded as a foundational piece of Indigenous literature in Canada for its attention to the discrimination, oppression and poverty that some Métis women (and Indigenous people, in general) experience in Canada. Campbell has authored several other books and plays, and has directed and written scripts for a number of films. As an artist, Campbell has worked with Indigenous youth in community theatre and advocated for the hiring and recognition of Indigenous people in the arts. She has mentored many Indigenous artists during her career.
Alanis Obomsawin, CC, GOQ, filmmaker, singer, artist, storyteller (born 31 August 1932 near Lebanon, New Hampshire). Alanis Obomsawin is one of Canada’s most distinguished documentary filmmakers. She began her career as a professional singer and storyteller before joining the National Film Board (NFB) in 1967. Her award-winning films address the struggles of Indigenous peoples in Canada from their perspective, giving prominence to voices that have long been ignored or dismissed. A Companion of the Order of Canada and a Grand Officer of the Ordre national du Québec, she has received the Prix Albert-Tessier and the Canadian Screen Awards’ Humanitarian Award, as well as multiple Governor General’s Awards, lifetime achievement awards and honorary degrees.
Arlene Stamp, painter (b at London, Ont 4 June 1938). Stamp studied art at the Alberta College of Art and Design (1974-76) and the University of Calgary (BFA, 1979, and post-graduate studies from 1979-80). Previously she had studied mathematics at the University of Western Ontario (BA, 1960).
Her Red series (1980) represented a breakthrough on several levels: symbolism, content and form.
Barbara Chilcott, actor (born Barbara Chilcott Davis in Newmarket, Ont 1923). As a child and young woman in Toronto, Chilcott studied acting with Josephine Barrington and dancing with Bettina Byers at Academy Ballet, and attended Tamara Dakarhanova's School of the Theatre in Mount Kisco, NY.
Andrea Gail Boardman
Boardman was promoted to principal dancer in 1985.
Editorial: Black Women in the Arts
The following article is part of an exhibit. Past exhibits are not updated.
Driven to overcome histories of prejudice and marginalization, as women and as people of African descent, Black women are among Canada’s most innovative artists. With their fingers on the pulse of this multi-tasking, multi-disciplinary, 21st-century culture, the 15 dynamic artists featured in this exhibit — a mix of poets, playwrights, filmmakers, musicians and visual artists — refuse to be limited to one medium or style.
Award-winning poet Dionne Brand is also a novelist, filmmaker and influential professor, while Lillian Allen thrives as a dub poet, declaiming her verses to reggae accompaniment. trey anthony is a comedian as well as a ground-breaking playwright and screenwriter. All of these women and the many others below are also, in one way or another, passionate activists and committed advocates who are deeply involved in their communities.