Margaret Atwood is a Canadian poet and novelist. Her works encompass themes, such as religion and myth, climate change, and gender and identity. An award-winning writer, many of Atwood's works have been made into films and television series; her work, The Handmaid's Tale, has had several adaptations. Perhaps, Margaret Atwood's most important contribution is her invention of the LongPen device.
Terry Fox was a popular cancer research activist and humanitarian. Despite suffering from cancer and having lost one of his legs to cancer, he embarked on a cross-country run to raise money for cancer research. Although he died at the age of 22, his efforts resulted in a worldwide legacy and gave rise to the annual Terry Fox Run.
Canadian author, social activist, and filmmaker Naomi Klein is known for her criticism of corporate globalization and capitalism. She became internationally known following the release of her alter-globalization book No Logo. She often appears on global and national lists of top influential thinkers and is the recipient of the 2016 Sydney Peace Prize. She is a prominent environmentalist as well.
Steven Crowder is an American-Canadian comedian, media host, and conservative political commentator. His YouTube channel, which has more than five million subscribers, was demonetized following repeated use of homophobic and racist slurs to describe Carlos Maza. Crowder contributed to the origin of the popular Internet meme, Change My Mind.
Phan Thi Kim Phuc is a South Vietnamese-born Canadian woman. As a nine-year-old child, she was captured in a photograph taken during the Vietnam War, in which she is shown running naked on a road following a napalm attack. It took her a long time to recover from her injuries. As an adult, she is a peace activist.
Political activist and YouTuber Lauren Southern is also a prominent white nationalist. Initially an employee of The Rebel Media, she later also worked for Sky News Australia. She and two of her fellow anti-Muslim activists were refused entry at the Luton airport in the UK and even detained in 2018.
American-Canadian journalist Jane Jacobs is best known for her book The Death and Life of Great American Cities. A specialist in urban culture and its issues, she was one of the few women who excelled in a male-dominated field. The Vincent Scully Prize winner was initially scorned at as a housewife.
Though born bi-racial, Viola Desmond became a Black icon for her business acumen. After not being allowed to train as a beautician in Halifax, she moved to Montreal. Her beauty products, salon, and training institute, all catering specifically to Black women, filled a major void in the beauty industry.
Rupi Kaur is an Indian-born Canadian poet, photographer, illustrator, and author. Born in India, she moved to Canada at an early age. She began performing in 2009 and gained international fame through her Instagram posts. She often explores her South Asian identity and femininity in her work. Her latest poetry collection, Home Body, released in 2020, was a resounding success.
The first North American Black woman to publish a newspaper, USA-born Mary Ann Shadd was the founder of the Canadian newspaper, The Provincial Freeman. Concurrently serving as its anonymous editor and contributor, she also became one of the first women to pursue journalism in Canada. She was also one of the first Black women to earn a degree in law.
At age 12, Craig Kielburger and his brother read about a child laborer of his age who was murdered in Pakistan for protesting against child labor in his country, and the duo immediately stepped into action. Their organization Free the Children led to the formation of the WE Movement.
Canadian women’s rights activist Emily Murphy was part of The Famous Five, a group of women activists who launched the Persons Case to make women eligible to be part of the Senate. Murphy also served as the first police magistrate in Canada and the British Empire.
Diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, as retinal disability that causes loss of vision, at age 4, Molly Burke went almost blind at age 14. Now a popular motivational speaker, she has a huge fan base on YouTube, has represented The Foundation Fighting Blindness Canada, and has also launched an audiobook.
Canadian author and social reformer Nellie McClung had struck gold with her first novel, Sowing Seeds in Danny, a bestseller. She also spoke widely about woman suffrage and was part of the Alberta legislature. She was part of The Famous Five, a group of women who launched the Persons Case.
Currently a nuclear energy advocate and industry consultant, former activist Patrick Albert Moore began his career with Don't Make a Wave Committee—a forerunner of Greenpeace—eventually being elected as its President. Later, he left Greenpeace over differences in policy and founded a PR company called Greenspirit Enterprise, developing solutions in areas of natural resources, biodiversity, energy and climate change.
Canadian activist Severn Cullis-Suzuki is known for her fight for environmental issues and intergenerational justice. Born to environmentalist David Suzuki, she began her journey as an environmental activist in fifth grade. She was also honored in the UNEP’s Global 500 Roll of Honour and supports the Slow movement.
Canadian author and environmentalist Farley Mowat is best known for his books on his experiences as a naturalist. A zoology student at the University of Toronto, he dropped out without a degree. His bestselling novel People of the Deer related his concern about the plight of the Ihalmiut of the Arctic.
Iranian-Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari is also a human rights activist and an Emmy-winning filmmaker. He has won honors such as the Oxfam Novib/PEN Award. His book Then They Came for Me was a bestseller, while he has made films such as And Along Came a Spider, mirroring Iran’s society.
Better known as a prominent cannabis legalization activist, Marc Emery is also an entrepreneur and politician, active in multiple Canadian political parties. Often described as the Prince of Pot, he was the founder of Hemp BC, a cannabis-related store, Cannabis Culture Magazine and Pot TV. Sentenced to prison several times for his cannabis activism, he continues to pursue his goal.
Apart from teaching law at McGill University, Irwin Cotler has also been a Canadian MP for Mount Royal, the Minister of Justice, and the Attorney General of Canada. He has gained fame as a global human rights lawyer, too, serving as a counsel to prominent political prisoners such as Nelson Mandela.
Born in Poland, Charlie Riina moved to Canada in her younger days and won various chess contests there. She later studied criminology but changed her tracks after winning Miss Toronto. Now a popular adult star and beachwear model, she has also been a coveted Playboy Playmate of the Year.
Part of the Don't Make a Wave Committee, Robert Hunter also co-founded the international environmental organization Greenpeace. He was also a seasoned journalist and had begun writing as a teenager, when his mother bought him a typewriter. He battled prostate cancer in his final days and eventually succumbed to it.
Tara Teng is a Canadian human rights activist and former pageant winner. She achieved popularity in 2011, when she was named Miss Canada. The following year, she was crowned Miss World Canada. An advocate for human rights, Tara Teng spoke about human trafficking during her title reigns. In 2012, she received the Joy Smith Foundation's International Freedom Award.
Ursula Franklin was a German-Canadian research physicist, metallurgist, educator, and author. She is best remembered for her association with the University of Toronto, where she taught for more than 40 years. Ursula Franklin was also renowned for her work in promoting human rights, for which she received the prestigious Pearson Medal of Peace.
Apart from being the CEO and president of World Wildlife Fund Canada, Megan Leslie has also served as an MP for Halifax. She worked toward enlisting plastic microbeads on the list of toxic substances under the Environmental Protection Act of Canada. She is also a qualified lawyer.
Sci-fi author Judith Josephine Grossman, better known by her pen-name, Judith Merril, is also known for editing several anthologies. After her father’s suicide, she was raised by her mother in the Bronx. That Only A Mother remains one of her best-known short stories and has been part of many anthologies.
Known widely as Canada's Conscience, journalist, author, and activist June Callwood had been associated with several publications, such as The Globe and Mail. She also established some of the first charity centers for women in Canada, opposed abortion laws, and co-founded the Writer’s Union of Canada.
Blair Longley is best remembered as a leader of the Marijuana Party. He had also contested elections as part of the Green Party. While he was an advocate of legalization of cannabis, after it was formally passed by the Canadian lawmakers, his party seemed to have lost its steam and cause.
David Fraser McTaggart was known for his wholehearted effort in making Greenpeace a truly global organization. The Canadian environmentalist was initially a promising athlete who excelled in badminton. After retiring from the chairmanship of Greenpeace, he ran an olive farm in Italy. He later died in a car crash.
Canadian women rights activist Laura Sabia was born to Italian immigrants in Montreal. She made headlines when she led a coalition of 32 women’s rights groups to campaign for a Royal Commission on the status of women. She also served as the president of the Canadian Federation of University Women.
Initially an engineer in the US, Jim Bohlen had also worked with the US navy and defense departments, before moving to Canada due to his lack of faith in the American government’s nuclear policy. He later gained fame as one of the co-founders of Greenpeace and as a Green Party activist.
Martha Chaves is a Nicaraguan-Canadian actress, comedian, playwright, and activist. She is best known for her stand-up comedy, which she performs in English, Spanish, Italian, and French. She has featured in famous comedy festivals, including Just for Laughs. In 2017, Martha Chaves was honored with the prestigious Canadian Comedy Award under the Best Standup Comic category.
Ketty Nivyabandi is a Burundian human rights activist and poet. Her French-language poetry has been featured in popular magazines like Words Without Borders and World Literature Today. Ketty Nivyabandi voiced her opinion during Burundi's constitutional crisis in 2015. She also led her country's first women-only protest.
The first Chairman of Greenpaece Foundation, Canadian journalist Bennett Metcalf became involved in environmental issues when he found that in the name of progress, the homelands of the Sekani First Nation was being flooded. Later, he joined the protest against U.S. army nuclear bomb test near Amchitka Island, eventually becoming the chairman of Greenpaece Foundation when the organization was formed.