Search for "residential schools"

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Sir Hector-Louis Langevin

Sir Hector-Louis Langevin, politician, lawyer, journalist (born 25 August 1826 in Québec City, Lower Canada; died 11 June 1906 in Québec City). Sir Hector-Louis Langevin played an important role in Confederation, defending the position of Québec and French-speaking Canadians at the Charlottetown and Québec Conferences of 1864, and again in London in 1866. He was a trusted administrator in Sir John A. Macdonald’s governments and an ardent federalist. Langevin was one of the original architects of the residential schools system, which was designed to assimilate Indigenous children into Euro-Canadian culture.

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Duncan Campbell Scott

Duncan Campbell Scott, poet, writer, civil servant (born 2 August 1862 in Ottawa, ON; died 19 December 1947 in Ottawa, ON). Scott’s complicated legacy encompasses both his work as an acclaimed poet and his role as a controversial public servant. Considered one of the “poets of the Confederation” — a group of English-language poets whose work laid the foundations for a tradition of Canadian poetry — his intense works made use of precise imagery and transitioned smoothly between traditional and modern styles. However, his literary work has arguably been overshadowed by his role as the deputy superintendent of the Department of Indian Affairs. He enforced and expanded residential schools, failed to respond to a tuberculosis epidemic and oversaw a treaty process that many claim robbed Indigenous peoples of land and rights. His oft-quoted goal to “get rid of the Indian problem” became, for many, characteristic of the federal government’s treatment of Indigenous peoples.

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Georgina Lightning

Georgina Lightning, actor, director, producer (b at Hobbema, Alta 1964). Georgina Lightning was born into the Samson Cree Nation. Educated in Canada, she moved to Los Angeles in 1990 to pursue an acting career and enrolled in the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.

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Jose Kusugak

Jose Amaujaq Kusugak, Inuk politician, community leader, teacher, activist, linguist and broadcaster (born 2 May 1950 in Repulse Bay, NT [now Naujaat, NU]; died 18 or 19 January 2011 in Rankin Inlet, Kivalliq, NU). Kusugak was president of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. from 1994 to 2000. This was the organization responsible for negotiating and implementing the land claim that ultimately resulted in the creation of Nunavut in 1999. For this reason, some consider Kusugak a Father of Confederation. He was also a lifelong advocate for Inuit rights, language and culture.

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Romeo Saganash

Romeo Saganash, lawyer, politician, advocate for Indigenous rights (born 28 October 1962 in Waswanipi, a Cree community southeast of James Bay in central Quebec). Saganash is Quebec’s first Indigenous Member of Parliament and the province’s first Cree person to receive an undergraduate law degree. He is believed to be the first Indigenous leader in Canada to run for the leadership of a major political party. For the last 20 years, Saganash has represented the Cree at numerous national and international forums concerning Indigenous issues. He spent 23 years helping to negotiate the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples — a resolution that provides a framework to implement treaty rights between First Peoples and Canada and to fulfill other obligations in international agreements. He has spent his life furthering the economic, environmental, legal and constitutional rights of Indigenous peoples in Canada, particularly the Cree in the James Bay region.

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Rita Joe

Rita Joe (née Rita Bernard), PC, CM, Mi’kmaq poet (born 15 March 1932 in Whycocomagh, NS; died 20 March 2007 in Sydney, NS). Often referred to as the poet laureate of the Mi’kmaq people, Rita Joe wrote powerful poetry that spoke about Indigenous identity and the legacy of residential schools in Canada. Her works continue to influence Indigenous and non-Indigenous writers and artists alike.

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Indigenous Language Revitalization in Canada

Before European settlement in Canada, Indigenous peoples spoke a wide variety of languages. As a means of assimilating Indigenous peoples, colonial policies like the Indian Act and residential schools forbid the speaking of Indigenous languages. These restrictions have led to the ongoing endangerment of Indigenous languages in Canada. In 2016, Statistics Canada reported that for about 40 Indigenous languages in Canada, there are only about 500 speakers or less. Indigenous communities and various educational institutions have taken measures to prevent more language loss and to preserve Indigenous languages.

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Racial Segregation of Indigenous Peoples in Canada

Racial segregation is the enforced separation of different racial groups in a country, community or establishment. Historically, the racial segregation of Indigenous peoples in Canada has been enforced by the Indian Act, reserve system, residential schools, and Indian hospitals, among other programs. These policies interfered with the social, economic, cultural and political systems of Indigenous peoples, while also paving the way for European settlement across the country. The segregation of Indigenous peoples in Canada must be understood within the history of contact, doctrines of discovery and conquest, and ongoing settler colonization.

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Nuchatlaht

The Nuchatlaht (“people of the mountain”) are a Nuu-chah-nulth First Nation residing on the northwest coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia. According to the federal government, the Nuchatlaht numbered 167 registered members, as of October 2021.

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Cindy Blackstock

Cindy Blackstock, OC, social worker, author, professor, advocate (born 1964 in Burns Lake, BC). Blackstock is a nationally and internationally respected advocate for the rights of Indigenous children. She co-founded the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society in 1998. Later, Blackstock led the organization’s case against the federal government from 2007–16. The Caring Society argued child welfare services provided to First Nations children and families on-reserve were discriminatory and flawed. Blackstock and the Caring Society continue to work toward improving child and family services for Indigenous children across Canada.

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Arthur Shilling

In May 1983 Shilling was one of 7 Canadian artists invited by Governor General Edward Schreyer to show at Rideau Hall, Ottawa. His paintings are in many corporate and private collections throughout North America. His life is documented in the film The Beauty of My People (NFB, 1978).

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Indigenous Peoples and Government Policy in Canada

For most of the history of political interaction between Indigenous people and the Canadian government (and its colonial predecessors) government policy has focused on First Nations. The Inuit were barely acknowledged until the 1940s, while special responsibility for Métis and Non-Status Indians was largely denied until 2016. The early history of Indigenous policy in Canada is characterized by the presence of both France and Britain as colonizing powers. British colonial policy acknowledged Indigenous peoples as sovereign nations. Post-Confederation Canadian Indigenous policy initially was based on a model of assimilation, with one of its main instruments being the Indian Act. Since the late 1960s, government policy has gradually shifted to a goal of self-determination for Indigenous peoples, to be achieved through modern-day treaties and self-government agreements.

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Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun

Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun, Coast Salish and Okanagan (see Interior Salish) artist and activist (born in 1957 at Kamloops, British Columbia). Yuxweluptun trained at the Emily Carr College of Art (now the Emily Carr University of Art and Design) in the late 1970s and early 1980s, focusing on historical European art. His paintings employ both traditional Northwest Coast imagery (see Northwest Coast Indigenous Art) and surrealist visual language to critique colonialism, racism against Indigenous peoples, capitalism, and environmental destruction, among other issues. In addition to paintings, Yuxweluptun has produced multimedia artworks, videos and performances that are political in nature. In 2013, Yuxweluptun was awarded a Fellowship at the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art in Indianapolis, USA. Yuxweluptun’s art is featured in the permanent collections of many prominent galleries and museums in North America.

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Gloria George

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.

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Bertha Skye

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.

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Murray Sinclair

Murray Sinclair or Mizanay (Mizhana) Gheezhik, meaning “The One Who Speaks of Pictures in the Sky” in the Ojibwe language, lawyer, judge and senator (born in 1951 in Selkirk, MB). Called to the Manitoba Bar in 1980, Sinclair focused primarily on civil and criminal litigation, Indigenous law and human rights. In 1988, he became Manitoba’s first, and Canada’s second, Indigenous judge. Sinclair joined the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2009, before becoming a senator in 2016. He retired from the Senate in 2021 but continues to mentor Indigenous lawyers. The breadth of public service and community work completed by Sinclair demonstrates his commitment to Indigenous peoples in Canada.

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Ralph Garvin Steinhauer

​Ralph Garvin Steinhauer, OC, lieutenant-governor of Alberta, Indigenous leader, farmer (born 8 June 1905 in Morley, North-West Territories [now AB]; died 19 September 1987 in Edmonton, AB). The first Indigenous person to serve as lieutenant-governor of a Canadian province, he was committed to Indigenous affairs in Alberta and Canada.

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Elsipogtog First Nation

Elsipogtog (pronounced El-see-buk-tuk) First Nation is a Mi’kmaq community about 91 km northwest of Moncton, New Brunswick. Known for many years as Big Cove, in 2003 the First Nation officially changed its name to Elsipogtog, meaning “river of fire.” However, they are still commonly referred to as Big Cove. Community members largely speak Mi’kmaw and English.

As of 2021, Elsipogtog has 3,509 registered members, 2,703 of whom live on the First Nation’s reserve. The reserve, also known as Elsipogtog, is still referred to as Richibucto 15 in some official documents. It encompasses 19.56 km2.