The game is six degrees of Canadian history. Take two seemingly unrelated pieces of Canadian culture and connect the dots through various people, places and events to discover how they’re distantly — or maybe not-so-distantly — related. Along the way, we visit the quizzical and curious, the tragic and comic, and everything in between.
Lhasa de Sela, author, singer, songwriter, film director, musical director and painter (born 27 September 1972 in Big Indian, United States; died 1 January 2010, in Montreal, Quebec). A major influence on the world music repertoire, she charmed an entire generation with her charisma and her deep voice, which she deployed in a wide range of languages, dialects and new sonorities. In 1998, her first album, La Llorona, won her the Juno Award for Best Global Album of the Year as well as a Juno nomination for Best New Solo Artist of the Year. In 2004, her album The Living Road was nominated for the Juno for World Music Album of the Year, and in 2006, her video for the song “Con Toda Palabra” was nominated for the Juno for Video of the Year. In 2005, she received the award for Best World Music Artist of the Americas from the BBC.
Veronica Tennant, CC, FRSC, ballet dancer, teacher, choreographer, television producer, director (born 15 January 1946 in London, England). Veronica Tennant is one of the most prominent figures in Canada’s performing arts community. As a leading ballerina with the National Ballet of Canada, she became an international celebrity for her dramatic intensity and superb technique. Since retiring in 1989, she has worked as a teacher and choreographer, and has also forged a successful career as an award-winning TV producer and director specializing in dance programming. Tennant was the first dancer to be appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada (1975) and was promoted to Companion in 2003. A member of Canada’s Walk of Fame and the Encore! Dance Hall of Fame, she has received many awards and honorary degrees, including the Walter Carsen Prize for Excellence in the Performing Arts and the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Achievement.
Joane Cardinal-Schubert, RCA, artist (born 1942 in Red Deer, AB; died 16 September 2009 in Calgary, AB). Award-winning Kainaiwa (Blood) artist Joane Cardinal-Schubert was also a successful and influential curator, lecturer, poet and director of video and Indigenous theatre. Her artworks and writing often addressed contemporary political issues such as Indigenous sovereignty, cultural appropriation and environmental concerns. She supported other Indigenous artists as a curator and activist, while also questioning methods of displaying historical and contemporary Indigenous artworks. She was a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts and a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal, the Commemorative Medal of Canada and the National Aboriginal Achievement Award in Art.
Quantum Tangle is a performance-based storytelling group from Yellowknife consisting of Inuk-Canadian vocalist Tiffany Ayalik and Anishinaabe-Métis guitarist Greyson (Grey) Gritt. The genre-bending duo’s music is informed by Inuit throat singing, spoken-word storytelling and blues-inspired folk rock. Inspired by their respective Indigenous ancestries, Quantum Tangle’s music explores identity, systemic racism, colonialism, the environment and Indigenous histories. Their album, Tiny Hands (2016), won the 2017 Juno Award for Indigenous Music Album of the Year.
The Inuit artist Pitseolak Ashoona was born in a skin tent between 1904 and 1908 while her family was making a spring trek from Salluit, in the Nunavik region of Arctic Québec, to the south coast of Baffin Island (Qikiqtaaluk), during an era when Europeans still had relatively little impact on the far north and when the Inuit still lived on the land as semi-nomadic subsistence hunters and trappers.
Stephen Reid, writer, bank robber (born 13 March 1950 in Massey, ON; died 13 June 2018 in Haida Gwaii, BC). Best known for his novel, Jackrabbit Parole (1986) and his collection of essays, A Crowbar in The Buddhist Garden: Writing from Prison (2012), Stephen Reid was a founding member of the infamous Stopwatch Gang.
Catherine Ruth MacLellan, singer, songwriter (born 23 April 1980 in Burlington, ON). Catherine MacLellan is a contemporary folk-roots singer-songwriter whose recordings have won multiple East Coast Music Awards, Canadian Folk Music Awards, Music PEI Awards and a Juno Award. She is the daughter of “Snowbird” composer Gene MacLellan.
Boucar Diouf, CQ, scientist, teacher, writer, poet, storyteller, comedian and columnist (born 26 May 1965 in Fatick, Senegal). Diouf is beloved for his inspired, sincere and relatable outlook. In his books and monologues, Diouf explores the themes of immigration and integration into Quebec society. As an educator, Diouf manages to defuse controversial subjects by using humour and shining a philosophical light on them.
Leonard Norman Cohen, poet, novelist, singer, songwriter (born 21 September 1934 in Montréal, QC; died 7 November 2016 in Los Angeles, California). Leonard Cohen was one of the most iconic Canadian artists of the 20th century. A sage, mystic, bohemian and romantic, he built an acclaimed body of literary work and a revered career in pop music. In his poetry, novels and music, he constantly probed the human condition, exploring themes of love, loss, death and his commitment to his art. As a poetic and unlikely pop star, his narrow-ranged, gruff voice, which deepened and darkened with age, and his reliance on simple, singsong melodies were complimented by the intense imagery and depth of his lyrics. A Companion of the Order of Canada, he was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame, the US Songwriters Hall of Fame, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Folk Music Walk of Fame. He also received the Glenn Gould Prize, eight Juno Awards, a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and numerous other honours.
The Dancers of Damelahamid are a First Nations dance collective from the Northwest coast of British Columbia, traditional territories of the Gitksan nation. Damelahamid refers to the origins of the first ancestor, Hagbegwatku, and the land granted the Gitksan when their ancestors were placed on earth. It is a geographic location near Hazelton, BC, where the 'Ksan Historical Village and Museum is found.
His career breakthrough was Frames of Mind, originally created for a 1993 NATIONAL BALLET OF CANADA choreographic workshop and taken into the company repertoire to critical acclaim the following year, earning a Dora Mavor Moore Award nomination. NBC included Frames of Mind in a later European tour.