Famous Canadian Activists

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You must have heard about people working as human rights activists, animal activists, environmental activists, women rights activists and so on in your society today but before you take a leap further and know more about them, it is crucial to understand who activists truly are. They are the people who campaign for a change, be it political, social, environmental or economical through protests, marches and remonstrations. With the rising awareness about the society, more and more people are turning to become activists. They strongly stand by their line of belief and are influential in executing changes that the society demands. Even the top countries of the world do not have everything that goes right. They too have some political or social causes that demand change and it is here where activists step in. Canada may seem to be an emerging world power but the country suffers from its own crisis and societal, political or environmental problems that needs attention. Canadian activists have worked in various spheres and taken much effort to promote, impede or direct change to make improvement and correct social injustice. Check this segment and find out more about famous Canadian activists.
Vote for Your Favourite Canadian Activists
 1 
Margaret Atwood
(Poet, Novelist, Literary Critic & Environmental Activist)
Margaret Atwood
10
Birthdate: November 18, 1939
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Ottawa, Canada

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.

 2 
Tommy Chong
(Known for His Role in TV Series ‘That '70s Show’ and Part of the Comedy Duo 'Cheech & Chong')
Tommy Chong
6
Birthdate: May 24, 1938
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Edmonton, Canada
Tommy Chong is best known for his marijuana-themed comedy albums and films of the Cheech & Chong series, in collaboration with Cheech Marin. He was seen as Leo on That '70s Show. He supports legalization of cannabis and is a NORML board member. He has faced many legal issues, too.
 3 
Terry Fox
(Canadian Athlete and Activist Who Became a National Hero and an Inspirational Figure for His Battle Against Cancer)
Terry Fox
4
Birthdate: July 28, 1958
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Winnipeg, Canada
Died: June 28, 1981

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.

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 4 
Steven Crowder
(Known for His 'YouTube' show, 'Louder with Crowder')
Steven Crowder
7
Birthdate: July 7, 1987
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Grosse Pointe, Michigan, United States

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.

 5 
Naomi Klein
(Canadian Author and Activist Best Known for Her Books: ‘No Logo’, ‘The Shock Doctrine’ and ‘This Changes Everything’)
Naomi Klein
3
Birthdate: May 5, 1970
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Montreal, Canada

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.

 6 
Phan Thi Kim Phuc
(Napalm Girl Depicted in the Pulitzer Prize–Winning Photograph Titled 'The Terror of War')
Phan Thi Kim Phuc
4
Birthdate: April 6, 1963
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Trảng Bàng, Vietnam

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.  

 7 
Lauren Southern
(Canadian Alt-Right YouTuber, Political Activist and Commentator)
Lauren Southern
10
Birthdate: June 16, 1995
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Surrey, British Columbia, Canada

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.

 8 
Jane Jacobs
(Journalist and Author Best Known for Her Book ‘The Death and Life of Great American Cities’)
Jane Jacobs
3
Birthdate: May 4, 1916
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Scranton, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: April 25, 2006

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.

 9 
Viola Desmond
(Businesswoman)
Viola Desmond
3
Birthdate: July 6, 1914
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Halifax, Nova Scotia
Died: February 7, 1965

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.

 10 
Shirley Douglas
(Canadian Actress and Activist)
Shirley Douglas
4
Birthdate: April 2, 1934
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Weyburn, Canada
Died: April 5, 2020
Actor and activist Shirley Douglas, daughter of Canadian politician Tommy Douglas, started her career with English theater and TV and then went back to Canada. She has played real-life idols such as Nellie McClung, May Bailey, and Madeleine Albright in various projects. She was also part of The Vagina Monologues.
 11 
David Suzuki
(Canadian Academic, Environmental Activist and Host of TV Program ‘The Nature of Things’)
David Suzuki
3
Birthdate: March 24, 1936
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Vancouver, Canada
Best known for the CBC show The Nature of Things, Canadian environmental activist David Suzuki has also been a genetics and zoology professor. The UN Environment Programme Medal winner has been a major force against global warming and has written several books, such as An Introduction to Genetic Analysis.
 12 
Sarah Polley
(Actress, Director)
Sarah Polley
6
Birthdate: January 8, 1979
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
 13 
Rupi Kaur
(Canadian Poet, Illustrator, Photographer, and Author)
Rupi Kaur
4
Birthdate: October 4, 1992
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Punjab, India

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. 

 14 
Mary Ann Shadd
(American-Canadian Activist, Journalist, Publisher and the First Black Woman Publisher in North America)
Mary Ann Shadd
3
Birthdate: October 9, 1823
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Wilmington, Delaware, United States
Died: June 5, 1893

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.

 15 
Craig Kielburger
(Canadian Author)
Craig Kielburger
3
Birthdate: December 17, 1982
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Thornhill, Vaughan, Canada

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.  

 16 
Paul Watson
(Environmental activist, who founded the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society)
Paul Watson
3
Birthdate: December 2, 1950
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Toronto, Canada
 17 
Elizabeth May
(Leader of the Green Party of Canada from 2006 to 2019)
Elizabeth May
3
Birthdate: June 9, 1954
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Hartford, Connecticut, United States
 18 
Emily Murphy
(First Female Magistrate in Canada)
Emily Murphy
3
Birthdate: March 14, 1868
Sun Sign: Pisces
Died: October 17, 1933

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.

 19 
Nellie McClung
(Writer, Human rights activist, Politician)
Nellie McClung
3
Birthdate: October 20, 1873
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Chatsworth, Ontario, Canada
Died: September 1, 1951

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.

 20 
Molly Burke
(Activist, Motivational Speaker)
Molly Burke
3
Birthdate: February 8, 1994
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Toronto

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.

 21 
Irshad Manji
(Author and founder of the Moral Courage Project)
Irshad Manji
3
Birthdate: 1968 AD
Birthplace: Kampala, Uganda
 22 
Patrick Moore
(Canadian Industry Consultant, Activist, and Former President of 'Greenpeace Canada')
Patrick Moore
3
Birthdate: June 15, 1947
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Port Alice, Canada

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.

 23 
Omar Sharif Jr.
(Actor, Model)
Omar Sharif Jr.
0
Birthdate: November 28, 1983
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
 24 
Severn Cullis-Suzuki
(Canadian Environmental Activist, Speaker, Television Host, and Author)
Severn Cullis-Suzuki
6
Birthdate: November 30, 1979
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Vancouver, Canada

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.

 25 
Farley Mowat
(One of the Best-Selling Canadian Writers Known for His Books: 'People of the Deer', 'Never Cry Wolf' )
Farley Mowat
3
Birthdate: May 12, 1921
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Belleville, Canada
Died: May 6, 2014

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.

 26 
Melody Anderson
(Actress, social worker, public speaker)
Melody Anderson
0
Birthdate: December 3, 1955
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
 27 
Sarah Burke
(Freestyle skier)
Sarah Burke
1
Birthdate: September 3, 1982
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Barrie, Ontario, Canada
Died: January 19, 2012
 28 
Maziar Bahari
(Film director, Journalist, Human rights activist)
Maziar Bahari
2
Birthdate: May 25, 1967
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Tehran

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.

 29 
Marc Emery
(Activist)
Marc Emery
2
Birthdate: February 13, 1958
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: London

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.

 30 
Jeff Berwick
(Entrepreneur)
Jeff Berwick
0
Birthdate: November 24, 1970
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
 31 
Irwin Cotler
(Lawyer, Politician, Human rights activist, University teacher)
Irwin Cotler
2
Birthdate: May 8, 1940
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Montreal

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.

 32 
Dominique Anglade
(Leader of the Opposition in Quebec)
Dominique Anglade
1
Birthdate: January 31, 1974
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
 33 
Charlie Riina
2
Birthplace: Poland

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.

 34 
Ingrid Mattson
(Former president of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA))
Ingrid Mattson
2
Birthdate: August 24, 1963
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Kingston, Canada
 35 
Robert Hunter
(Environmentalist)
Robert Hunter
4
Birthdate: October 13, 1941
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Saint Boniface, Winnipeg, Canada
Died: May 2, 2005

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.

 36 
Ursula Franklin
(German-Canadian Research Physicist, Metallurgist, Educator, and Author)
Ursula Franklin
0
Birthdate: September 16, 1921
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Munich, Germany
Died: July 22, 2016

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.

 37 
Tara Teng
(Canadian Human Rights Activist and Former Pageant Winner)
Tara Teng
0
Birthdate: August 16, 1988
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: British Columbia, Canada

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.

 38 
Megan Leslie
(Politician, Human rights activist)
Megan Leslie
2
Birthdate: September 29, 1973
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Toronto

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.

 39 
Dionne Brand
(Poet, Novelist)
Dionne Brand
0
Birthdate: January 7, 1953
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Guayaguayare, Trinidad and Tobago
 40 
Judith Merril
(American-Canadian Science Fiction Writer, Editor and Political Activist)
Judith Merril
2
Birthdate: January 21, 1923
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Died: September 12, 1997

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.

 41 
June Callwood
(Journalist)
June Callwood
1
Birthdate: June 2, 1924
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Chatham-Kent, Canada
Died: April 14, 2007

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.

 42 
Blair Longley
(Politician)
Blair Longley
2
Birthdate: September 25, 1950
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: 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.

 43 
Charlie Demers
(Comedian, Political Activist)
Charlie Demers
0
Birthdate: 1980 AD
Birthplace: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
 44 
Sumaya Dalmar
0
Birthdate: 1989 AD
Birthplace: Somalia
Died: February 22, 2015
 45 
David Fraser McTaggart
(Environmentalist)
David Fraser McTaggart
1
Birthdate: June 24, 1932
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Vancouver, Canada
Died: March 23, 2001

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.

 46 
Laura Sabia
(Canadian Social Activist and Feminist)
Laura Sabia
1
Birthdate: September 18, 1916
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Died: October 17, 1996

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.

 47 
Jim Bohlen
(Engineer)
Jim Bohlen
1
Birthdate: July 4, 1926
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: The Bronx, New York, United States
Died: July 5, 2010

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.

 48 
Martha Chaves
(Nicaraguan-Canadian Actress & Comedian)
Martha Chaves
1
Birthplace: Nicaragua

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.

 49 
Ketty Nivyabandi
(Burundian Human Rights Activist and Poet)
Ketty Nivyabandi
0
Birthdate: July 19, 1978
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Burundi

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.

 50 
Ben Metcalfe
(Journalist)
Ben Metcalfe
1
Birthdate: October 31, 1919
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Winnipeg, Canada
Died: October 14, 2003

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.