Senior Student Zone: Biographies
Many and more Aboriginal notables are represented on the Canadian Aboriginal Newspaper site at
http://www.ammsa.com/windspeaker/index.htm. Choose the link “People of Honour.”
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Tom Longboat was born in Ontario on the Six Nations Reserve in 1887. He grew up on a small farm and his father died when he was very young. In 1906, he out ran a horse on a 19 km (12-mile) course. He won the Toronto 24 km (15-mile) race three times. In 1907, at the age of 20, he won the Boston Marathon and became known as the best in the Western Hemisphere. His 14 km (15-mile) time of one hour, 25 minutes and 43 seconds in 1908 stood as a Canadian record for 56 years and lent him the nickname “Bronze Mercury.” He retired from running in 1912 and in 1916 enlisted to fight during WWI. He used his athletic ability to run messages from one post to another, a very dangerous job. Tom was injured during the war and was even pronounced dead on one occasion. He eventually died from pneumonia in 1949. Today there is a sportsmanship award known as the Tom Longboat Award presented annually in his honour by the Aboriginal Sport Circle.
“Ted Nolan was born in Sault Ste. Marie in Ontario. He is a First Nations Canadian who was a former National Hockey League (NHL) left-wing hockey player and coach. He played for the Ontario Hockey Associations' Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, the Central Hockey League's Kansas City Red Wings, the American Hockey League's Adirondack Red Wings, Baltimore Skipjacks. He then played in the National Hockey League for the Pittsburgh Penguins and Detroit Red Wings. Ted became the head coach of the Sault Ste. Marie's Greyhounds in 1988 until 1994, was assistant coach for the Hartford Whalers for one season, and was head coach for the Buffalo Sabres for the 1995 season. In his second season in Buffalo, he led the team to a strong regular season and was awarded with the Jack Adams Award.”
“Bill Reid was born in British Columbia of Haida descent. He was a radio announcer with CBC during the late 1940’s while he studied jewelry design in Ontario. When he moved back to BC, he created jewelry with a West Coast Aboriginal theme and later became involved in the salvaging and restoration of totem poles. This led him to begin carving totem poles for which he is most recognized. His totem pole carvings are exhibited in numerous galleries across North America.”
Buffy Sainte-Marie was born on the Piapot Cree reserve in Qu’Appelle Valley, Saskatchewan. She was adopted and raised in the United States, where she eventually studied and obtained a PhD of Fine Art from the University of Massachusetts. During her college years in the 1960s, she wrote a collection of protest and love songs that have been performed by many popular musicians such as Tracy Chapman, Elvis, Janis Joplin, Neil Diamond and Barbara Streisand. A regular character on the children’s television show “Sesame Street” from 1976 to 1980, she won an Academy Award in 1982 for the song “Up Where We Belong.” To date, she has recorded 12 albums and has been successful in bringing Aboriginal singers into mainstream music. Buffy currently spends most of her time in Hawaii working on a new project, Cradleboard, which aims to facilitate the exchange of cultural education information between First Nations and non-Aboriginal schools.
Allen Sapp was born on the Red Pheasant Reserve not far from North Battleford in1929. He was a sickly child who suffered from meningitis. He began painting as a form of communication to compensate for his poor writing skills. His paintings were first sold at a Winnipeg department store and later at the Mendal Art Gallery in 1969. Today, Allen Sapp is a highly regarded Aboriginal artist.
Mary Two-Axe Early
A non-status Mohawk from Kahnawake reserve in Quebec, Mary married a non-Aboriginal man and consequently lost her official status due to a clause in the
Indian Act. In 1967, she took her case of gender discrimination to the Royal Commission on the Status of Women. Mary was a pioneer in Aboriginal rights as she was the first to raise public awareness around the issue of gender discrimination.
Roy Henry Vickers
“Roy Henry Vickers is internationally recognized as one of the best native artists in the world. An artist in mind and soul, Vickers triumphed over an early life filled with abuse, addiction, turmoil and tragedy. He is committed to sharing his stories with others in his
community so that they learn through his experience. He hopes that the past will not repeat itself and that his people can all share in a future that is filled with not just dreams but also the tools to achieve them. Roy's life lessons transcend race, geography, and personal circumstance. Audiences of every kind are moved and inspired by his story.”
Walking Buffalo was born by the Bow River in 1871, and had two other names–George McLean and Tatanga Mani. His mother died when he was very young and a pioneer missionary offered to adopt him, giving him clothes and his surname. He received an education and later taught on his reserve, worked in Calgary as a blacksmith and as a scout for the Mounted Police. It is no doubt that Walking Buffalo witnessed many changes throughout his lifetime. He participated in the buffalo hunt, became a Medicine Man, used the dog travois and observed the development of the Mounted Police and the signing of Treaty 7. In 1920, Walking Buffalo became Chief and was one of the founders of the Indian Society. He was an international traveller, visiting the United States, England, Switzerland, New Zealand, Australia, Asia and Africa. He travelled with the message to “stop hating each other and start being brothers the way the Great Spirit intended.” He was known as the Ambassador of Understanding. Walking Buffalo visited Buckingham Palace. It was estimated that he had travelled 200 000 km by the time he was 87.