National Indigenous History Month

Historical Photos

Wally McKay – Politician/Advocate for Indigenous Rights:

Indigenous people to recognize – Wallace (Wally) Mckay was nominated to assist with the Scott-Mckay-Bain Health review of health services in the Sioux Lookout zone. Wally is Former Grand Chief of Nishnawbe Aski Nation, is Former Regional Chief of Chiefs of Ontario and Runner up on Election for National Chief. He continues to participate and advocate for health service equality and improved services. 

Lawrence Martin – Painter & Former Mayor of Sioux Lookout

Lawrence Martin was born in January of 1956 in Moose Factory, Ontario. He is a Canadian musician and politician who used the name Wapistan, derived from the Cree language word for the marten, in his musical work. In the 1980s, Martin was executive director of the Wawatay Native Communications Society. In this role, in 1989 he produced the first-ever television broadcast of a pow-wow.

He became mayor of Sioux Lookout, Ontario, in 1991, becoming the first aboriginal person in the province ever elected to the mayoralty of a municipality that was not a First Nations reserve.

Carl Ray – Artist

Carl Ray was an artist who was active on the Canadian art scene from 1969 until his death in 1978. Considered primarily a Woodlands Style artist. He was a founding member of the Indian Group of Seven. He began painting when he vas 30 years old.

Ray was born on January 10, 1943 in Sandy Lake First Nation, and was known in his Oji-cree community as Tall Straight Poplar (he was 6’4″ tall) where he hunted and trapped after leaving residential school at fifteen following the death of his father. Ray apprenticed under Norval Morrisseau (who had already achieved national and international acclaim) and worked on the mural for the Indians of Canada Pavilion of Expo ’67 in Montreal.

With the help of Ontario Department of Education Superintendent Robert Lavack, Ray embarked on a tour teaching art at schools in northern communities including Kirkland Lake, Timmins, Blind River, Wawa, Bruce Mines, Manitoulin Island, Sudbury, Levack, North Bay, Bracebridge, Oshawa and Whitby. He also taught at the Manitou Arts Foundation on Schreiber Island in 1971. The following year the department of Indian Affairs sponsored the tour through northern communities and reserves.

Ray continued to develop and paint through the mid-’70s completing notable large-scale mural opportunities at schools and the Sioux Lookout Fellowship and Communications Centre as well as smaller works becoming more and more popular with white buyers. In the early 1970s, Ray had the first solo exhibition of his black and sepia, Woodlands-style paintings on paper and canvas at Aggregation Gallery in Toronto. Aggregation Gallery continued to represent his work and estate through to the early ’80s. By 1975, the Indian Group of Seven had formed and Ray was enjoying acclaim and purchases by notable collectors such as Dr. Peter Lewin and Dr. Bernard Cinader, as well as public institutions such as the McMichael Canadian Art Collection. He also illustrated the cover of “The White City” published by Tom Marshall in 1976.

Ahmoo Angeconeb – Artist

Ahmoo Angeconeb was born April 19, 1955, in Sioux Lookout, Ont. Ahmoo (meaning “bee” in Ojibwe) was the sixth of 10 kids. Ahmoo was sent to residential schools in the 1960s in Sioux Lookout and Kenora, Ont. He got positive attention because of both his artistic talent (he sold his first painting at age 13) and his skills as a hockey player. After high school, Ahmoo began formal training as an artist, first at York University in Toronto, then at Thunder Bay’s Lakehead University. He married and, with his wife, Barb, moved to Halifax, where Ahmoo was both a student and teacher at Dalhousie University. The couple adopted and raised two children—Simone-Claire and Hunter—from a Winnipeg family.

Ahmoo became well-known for his printmaking, and for more than a decade he would scrape together enough money to spend six months of the year traipsing around Europe, showing and selling his work. On one trip, recounts Godwin, Ahmoo met a wealthy Parisian who connected him to an art dealer who, enchanted by Ahmoo’s quiet charisma, gave him the number of Prince Albert II of Monaco. Ahmoo called him up, the prince bought some of his paintings, and the two kept up a correspondence for years.

Ahmoo was influenced early on by the Indigenous artist Norval Morrisseau, but he had his own style, says Godwin. “Many of his best pieces were drawings done on black paper with blue and white pencil crayon. It sounds really simple, but they are large and very detailed drawings, often about his life and his community.”

Tantoo Cardinal – Actor

A Canadian film and television actress. In 2009, she was made a member of the Order of Canada “for her contributions to the growth and development of Aboriginal performing arts in Canada, as a screen and stage actress, and as a founding member of the Saskatchewan Native Theatre Company.

Richard Wagamese – Author

Richard Wagamese was an author and journalist from the Wabaseemoong Independent Nations in Northwestern Ontario.He was best known for his novel Indian Horse (2012), which won the Burt Award for First Nations, Métis and Inuit Literature in 2013, and was a competing title in the 2013 edition of Canada Reads.

It was adapted as into a feature-length film, Indian Horse (2017), directed by Stephen Campanelli and released after Wagamese’s death.

Norval Morrisseau – Artist:

Norval Morrisseau, CM RCA (March 14, 1932 – December 4, 2007), referred to as “Copper Thunderbird” is considered the grandfather of contemporary Indigenous art in Canada. He is heralded as “the key figure at the center of an indigenous art movement in Canada” by the National Chief of Assembly of First Nations and is the only Native Artist to have a solo exhibition by the National Gallery of Canada.

Morrisseau shattered societal, sexual, and commonly held stereotypes and prejudices in the 1960s. In the face of intense discrimination, He created a style that was all his own, an artistic vocabulary that inspired a new art movement. He founded the Woodlands School of Art and was a prominent member of the “Indian Group of Seven”.In 1978, He was made a Member of the Order of Canada, a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, and was honored with a posthumous Lifetime Achievement Award during the NAAF Awards show in 2008.

Known as the “Picasso of the North”, Morrisseau created works depicting the legends of his people, the cultural and political tensions between native Canadian and European traditions, his existential struggles, and his deep spirituality and mysticism.

Nora Bernard – Activist

Nora Bernard was a Mi’kmaq activist who fought for compensation for residential school survivors. As a child Bernard spent 5 years in the Shubenacadie Indian Residential School, which drove her to bring a lawsuit against the government for the mistreatment she experienced there. In the school, Bernard defended her siblings and other children when she saw them being treated badly and would be beaten for her efforts.

In 1995, Bernard founded an organization that represented survivors of Shubenacadie. Their class action suit soon became known across the country and other groups and associations joined them, forming one national lawsuit. Bernard wasn’t able to see the outcome of all of her hard work, as she died in 2007. 

Jean Cuthand Goodwill – Nurse

Jean Cuthand Goodwill, a Cree woman from the Little Pine First Nation, was the first Indigenous person in Saskatchewan and one of the first in Canada to become a registered nurse. When Goodwill was young she contracted tuberculosis and spent a lot of time in and around hospitals and medical workers, which influenced her to become a nurse. In the earlier part of her career, Goodwill worked in rural Saskatchewan and also Bermuda, focusing on helping people in need.

Goodwill’s interest in political and community issues grew when she returned to Canada. She helped found the Aboriginal Nurses Association of Canada and served as its president from 1983 to 1990. She was the first Indigenous women to serve as a special advisor to the minister of National Health and Welfare in the federal government and also worked with the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. She taught at the University of Regina, was a Canadian Public Health Association board member and was served a term as president of the Canadian Society for Circumpolar Health.

Francis Pegahmagabow – Soldier

A Canadian First Nations soldier, politician and activist. He was the most highly decorated Indigenous soldier in Canadian military history and the most effective sniper of the First World War. Three times awarded the Military Medal and seriously wounded, he was an expert marksman and scout, credited with killing 378 Germans and capturing 300 more. Later in life, he served as chief and a councillor for the Wasauksing First Nation, and as an activist and leader in several First Nations organizations.

Mary Greyeyes – Servicewoman (Canadian Armed Forces)

A Canadian World War II servicewoman. A Cree from the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation in Saskatchewan, she was the first First Nations woman to enlist in the Canadian Armed Forces. After joining the Canadian Women’s Army Corps (CWAC) in 1942, she became the subject of an internationally famous army publicity photograph, and was sent overseas to serve in London, England, where she was introduced to public figures such as George VI and his daughter Elizabeth. Greyeyes remained in London until being discharged in 1946, after which she returned to Canada.

Tommy Prince – Soldier

An Indigenous Canadian war hero and one of Canada’s most decorated First Nations soldiers, serving in World War II and the Korean War.

Harold Cardinal – writer, political leader, teacher, negotiator, and lawyer

A Cree writer, political leader, teacher, negotiator, and lawyer. Throughout his career he advocated, on behalf of all First Nation peoples, for the right to be “the red tile in the Canadian mosaic.”

Cardinal was a lifelong student of First Nations law as practised by Cree and other Aboriginal Elders; he complimented this with extensive study of law in mainstream educational institutions. He was also a mentor and inspiration to many Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students, professionals, and political leaders.

Author of ‘The Unjust Society’: Published in 1969, The Unjust Society was Cardinal’s response to Trudeau’s “just society” government system – in which Indian rights would be abolished. It is said that “The Unjust Society was instrumental in causing the Canadian government to abandon the policy of the White Paper”. Obviously a powerful book that connected a lot of Indigenous people across Turtle Island, as well as confronted the internal an patriarchal hate and bigotry that is, still, being bred into Canadian identity today. Reading the book, it’s language is reminiscent of the time “Indian” and “Eskimo” being used by the author reflects the times, but also the political atmosphere. It’s somewhat ironic that we are currently under yet another Trudeau as Prime Minister of Canada.

Key points discussed is the idea that as Indigenous people, we need to be at the tables when Acts and policies are in in discussion that would directly affect us. Cardinal directly addresses the idea that we – Indigenous and non-Indig, have different viewpoints of the world, and that’s alright. What matters is respecting each others opinion, but that simply isn’t the case right now/or then, where the Canadian Gov’t talks and decides whats best for us.

Cardinal warns that the youth will organize and organize well, as when we gave no faith in a Canadian Government, we will seek to destroy it in changing it, and it’s better to work with Indigenous people now, before we get to that point.

The most startling thing in the whole book is how little things have changed.

Theresa Spence – Former Chief and Activist

Former chief of the Attawapiskat First Nation in Canada.She was a prominent figure in the Attawapiskat housing and infrastructure crisis, Idle No More, and other First Nations issues. Prior to serving as chief, she was the deputy chief of Attawapiskat.

Samuel Ashe – Painter

Samuel Ashe was an Indigenous artist born in 1951 in Sioux Lookout. Born Ojibwe, he was adopted by a Metis couple after his mother died during childbirth. Ash was born without the ability to hear or speak. He was sent to the Ontario School for the Deaf in Belleville (now The Sir James Whitney School for the Deaf) where he learned to read and write.

Ash is a self-taught painter of the Woodland School, and has been painting since 1974. Despite demand for his work following a successful exhibition at the Windsor Gallery in the early 1990s, Ash stopped painting for 15 years due to personal difficulties, including struggles with alcohol and homelessness. In 2005, Ash returned to making and showing his work, staging an exhibition, “Rising from the Ashes,” at the Mackenzie Hall Cultural Centre in Windsor, Ontario.

Ash’s works are part of many private, corporate and public collections including the Canadian Museum of Civilization, the Royal Ontario Museum and the Canada House Gallery in London, England.

Ted Nolan – Hockey Player

A Canadian former professional hockey left winger, former head coach of the Buffalo Sabres and Latvia men’s national ice hockey team. From July 2017 until May 2018 he was head coach of the Poland men’s national ice hockey team. He played three seasons in the National Hockey League for the Detroit Red Wings and the Pittsburgh Penguins. He also coached the New York Islanders, after serving as assistant coach for one season with the Hartford Whalers. On November 13, 2013, the Buffalo Sabres re-hired Nolan as interim head coach; he remained in the position until April 12, 2015.

Nolan has two sons, Brandon Nolan, a Vancouver Canucks draft pick who last played for the American Hockey League’s Albany River Rats, and Jordan Nolan, a winger currently playing for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

He is a member of the Ojibwe tribe, a First Nations people.