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Richard Wagamese, Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) novelist, journalist, mentor (born 4 October 1955 in northwestern ON; died 10 March 2017 in Kamloops, BC). A well-known Indigenous writer in Canada, Wagamese won several awards including the Canada Council for the Arts Molson Prize (2013) and the Writers’ Trust of Canada’s Matt Cohen Award (2015). His works speak about the historical and contemporary socio-economic issues affecting Indigenous communities in Canada. They also bring attention to issues regarding Indigenous identity, culture and truth and reconciliation. A beloved writer, Wagamese’s works have inspired many Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples and writers alike.
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.
Freda Ahenakew, OC, Cree scholar, author (born 11 February 1932 on Ahtahkakoop First Nation, SK; died 8 April 2011 at Muskeg Lake First Nation, SK). Ahenakew is recognized as a leader in the acknowledgment and revitalization of the Cree language in Canada. In her life, Ahenakew helped to preserve the oral traditions of the Cree people and share Cree traditions and stories with Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples alike. (See also Indigenous Language Revitalization in Canada.)
Alexander Muir. Songwriter, school principal, poet, b Lesmahagow, near Lanark, Scotland, 5 Apr 1830, d Toronto 26 Jan 1906; BA (Queen's) 1851. His parents settled, when he was three, in Scarborough Township, east of Toronto, and he later taught 1853-60 in several Scarborough schools.
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.
Joseph-Israël Tarte, journalist and politician (born 11 January 1848 in Lanoraie, Canada East; died 18 December 1907 in Montréal, QC). A brilliant, caustic and often impulsive polemicist, Tarte was the owner and editor-in-chief of several newspapers throughout his career, including Le Canadien, L’Événement, La Patrie and the Quebec Daily Mercury, which he used to support various political factions and causes.
Frère Marie-Victorin (born Conrad Kirouac), member of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, botanist, teacher (born 3 April 1885 in Kingsey Falls, QC; died 15 July 1944 in St-Hyacinthe, QC). A self-taught botanist, Frère Marie-Victorin was the first chair of botany at Université de Montréal, founder of the Institut de Botanique and the Montréal Botanical Garden, and author of Flore laurentienne (1935). He also co-founded the Association canadienne-française pour l'avancement des sciences, the Société canadienne d'histoire naturelle, and the Cercles des jeunes naturalistes, and actively promoted science in popular as well as academic publications. A French Canadian nationalist, Marie-Victorin believed that knowledge of Québec’s natural world would inspire pride in French Canadians and enable them to take possession of their land.
Jack Lawrence Granatstein, OC, historian, professor (born 21 May 1939 in Toronto, Ontario). One of the most prolific Canadian historians of his generation, Granatstein has written widely on Canadian history and current affairs. A professor of history until his retirement in 1995, Granatstein later became director and CEO of the Canadian War Museum from 1998-2000. He has written over 60 books and is an Officer of the Order of Canada.
Ann Meekitjuk Hanson
Ann Meekitjuk Hanson, CM, journalist, broadcaster, philanthropist, commissioner of Nunavut (born 22 May 1946 in Qakutut, Northwest Territories). Hanson has spent much of her professional life in the public sector service, furthering the development of Nunavut and its people through her media and philanthropic work.
Bernadette Renaud, author, playwright (born 18 April 1945 in Ascot Corner, Québec).
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.
Authors and Their Milieu
Contemporary Canadian writers have won prestigious awards and honours at home and abroad. Among the most publicized of these events was Prix Goncourt awarded to Antonine Maillet for Pélagie-la-Charette.
Laurent-Olivier David, lawyer, journalist, newspaper owner, writer, politician (born 24 March 1840 in Sault-au-Récollet (Montréal), QC; died 24 August 1926 in Outremont, QC). David was responsible for founding the Monument-National and was the author of a number of biographies of famous Canadians.
Pierre Perrault, OQ, film director, poet, writer (born 29 June 1927 in Montréal, QC; died 23 June 1999 in Montréal). Pierre Perrault was one of Quebec’s most significant and celebrated artists. His collective work in radio, film, television and print explores the genesis and nature of French Canadian culture and identity. A pioneer of direct cinema, his elegiac 1963 documentary Pour la suite du monde, co-directed with Michel Brault, is a landmark in Canadian cinema. His writing received three Governor General’s Literary Awards: for poetry, theatre and non-fiction. An Officer of the Ordre national du Québec, Perrault received the Prix Ludger-Duvernay, Prix Albert-Tessier, Prix Victor-Barbeau, the Médaille des Arts et des Lettres from the Government of France, and the Médaille d’argent du Mouvement national des Québécois et Québécoises.
Lucy Maud Montgomery
Lucy Maud Montgomery, OBE, writer (born 30 November 1874 in Clifton (now New London), PEI; died 24 April 1942 in Toronto, ON). Lucy Maud Montgomery is arguably Canada’s most widely read author. Her first novel, Anne of Green Gables (1908), became an instant best-seller. It has remained in print for more than a century, making the character of Anne Shirley a mythic icon of Canadian culture. Montgomery produced more than 500 short stories, 21 novels, two poetry collections, and numerous journal and essay anthologies. Her body of work has sold an estimated 50 million copies worldwide. Anne of Green Gables alone has been translated into at least 36 languages as well as braille. It has been adapted dozens of times in various mediums. Montgomery was named an Officer of both the Order of the British Empire and the Literary and Artistic Institute of France. She was the first Canadian woman to be made a member of the British Royal Society of Arts and she was declared a Person of National Historic Significance in Canada.