Idola Saint-Jean, feminist and pioneer in the fight for women’s suffrage (born 19 May 1880 in Montréal, QC; died 6 April 1945 in Montréal). The first woman from Québec to run as a candidate in a federal election, she devoted over 20 years of her life to active efforts to improve women’s legal rights.
A writer of Chinese Malaysian descent, Madeleine Thien burst onto the Canadian literary scene in 2001 with her collection of stories Simple Recipes, which prompted Alice Munro to note that an important new voice had arrived. Thien's 2016 novel Do Not Say We Have Nothing won both the Governor General's Literary Award for fiction and the Scotiabank Giller Prize.
Robertine Barry (pen name: Françoise), journalist, publisher, author and feminist (born 26 February 1863 in L’Isle-Verte, Canada East; died 7 January 1910 in Montréal, Québec). The first French-Canadian woman journalist, she was also a founding member of the Fédération nationale Saint-Jean-Baptiste and the first vice-president of the Canadian Women’s Press Club.
George Elliott Clarke, poet, anthologist (b at Windsor Plains, NS 12 Feb 1960). George Elliott Clarke was born near Windsor Plains, a black Loyalist community, and grew up in Halifax. He earned a BA at the University of Waterloo, an MA at Dalhousie, and a PhD at Queen's University.
Margret Benedictsson (née Jonsdottir), journalist, social activist, suffragist (born 16 March 1866 in Hrappsstadir, Iceland; died 13 December 1956 in Anacortes, Washington). Benedictsson brought her deeply held beliefs and interest in social change to Manitoba. Through her service to the Icelandic communities in Selkirk, Gimli, and Winnipeg, she championed women’s suffrage, education, improved working conditions, and human rights.
Bernard Landry, GOQ, lawyer, politician, premier of Québec 2001–03 (born 9 March 1937 in Saint-Jacques de Montcalm, Québec). A Cabinet minister in the governments of René Lévesque, Pierre-Marc Johnson, Jacques Parizeau and Lucien Bouchard, Bernard Landry was influential in shaping Québec’s economic, trade and financial sectors. The 28th premier of Québec (from 2001 to 2003), Landry signed the Agreement Respecting a New Relationship Between the Cree Nation and the Government of Quebec, supported the Kyoto Protocol and made Québec’s economy a top priority. Following a vote of confidence, he stepped down as leader of the Parti Québécois in June 2005 and returned to university-level teaching.
Thomas King, CM, novelist, short-story writer, essayist, screenwriter, photographer (born 24 April 1943 in Roseville, California). A Member of the Order of Canada and two-time nominee for the Governor General’s Award, King is often described as one of the finest contemporary Aboriginal writers in North America.
Jane Vance Rule, CM, OBC, writer, teacher and activist (born 28 March 1931 in Plainfield, NJ; died 27 November 2007 in Galiano Island, BC). Rule was a ground-breaking novelist and essayist whose work explored the lives of lesbians, beginning at a time when homosexuality was still a crime in Canada (see LGBT Rights in Canada). Her first novel, Desert of the Heart, is perhaps her best known. It was adapted into the film Desert Hearts in 1986. Rule is the author of seven novels and several collections of essays and short stories. She was awarded the Order of British Columbia in 1998 and the Order of Canada in 2007.
Nell (née Helen Barham) Shipman, screenwriter, actor, director, producer, author (born in Victoria, British Columbia on 25 Oct 1892; died in Cabazon, California on 23 Jan 1970). Nell Shipman's first starring role in a major film was in the silent movie God's Country and the Woman (1916), which was an overnight success. Starring roles in 10 other films, mostly for Vitagraph, were followed by a seven-year contract offer from Samuel Goldwyn in 1917.