Famous Canadian Activists

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.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood
7
Famous As: Writer
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 Margot Kidder

Margot Kidder
4
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: October 17, 1948
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Yellowknife, Canada
Died: May 13, 2018

Margot Kidder is best remembered for her roles as Lois Lane in the Superman movie franchise and as Kathy Lutz in The Amityville Horror. Fans also loved her in the hit Broadway play The Vagina Monologues. She was a vocal anti-war and pro-environment activist. She eventually died by suicide.

 3 Terry Fox

Terry Fox
4
Famous As: Athlete, Activist
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 Maryse Ouellet

Maryse Ouellet
8
Famous As: Wrestler
Birthdate: January 21, 1983
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Montréal, Quebec, Canada

Maryse Ouellet is a Canadian-American businesswoman, actress, and professional wrestler. Currently signed to WWE, Ouellet often appears alongside her husband and WWE superstar The Miz. In 2008, Maryse won the WWE Divas Championship and went on to become the third-longest reigning Divas Champion in the history of WWE. In 2009, she was ranked ninth in the PWI Female 50 list.

 5 Naomi Klein

Naomi Klein
3
Famous As: Author
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 Lauren Southern

Lauren Southern
4
Famous As: Political Activist
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.

 7 Sarah Polley

Sarah Polley
4
Famous As: Actress, Director
Birthdate: January 8, 1979
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
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 8 Rupi Kaur

Rupi Kaur
4
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: October 4, 1992
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Hoshiarpur,Punjab, India 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. 

 9 Viola Desmond

Viola Desmond
3
Famous As: Businesswoman
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 Jane Jacobs

Jane Jacobs
3
Famous As: Journalist
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.

 11 Anita Sarkeesian

Anita Sarkeesian
3
Famous As: Feminist Media Critic, Blogger
Birthdate: August 15, 1983
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Ontario, Canada

Born to Iraqi immigrants to Canada, Anita Sarkeesian later moved to the U.S. and soared to fame as a feminist media critic and YouTuber. Her site Feminist Frequency explores the treatment of women in socio-cultural scenarios. Her Tropes vs Women project invited serious sexist and racist attacks online.

 12 Enrico Colantoni

Enrico Colantoni
3
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: February 14, 1963
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Enrico Colantoni is a Canadian actor and director best known for his role in the sitcom Just Shoot Me! He received his training at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and the Yale School of Drama. He began his career as an actor in the 1980s and appeared in a string of successful TV series. He is also a director. 

 13 David Suzuki

David Suzuki
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Famous As: Academic, Enviromental Activist
Birthdate: March 24, 1936
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Vancouver
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.

 14 Tarek Fatah

Tarek Fatah
3
Famous As: Journalist, Writer
Birthdate: November 20, 1949
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Karachi, Pakistan

Tarek Fatah is a Canadian liberal journalist, author, commentator, and Islamic reformer. Fatah, who was born in Pakistan, is renowned for his criticism of Islamism and Pakistan. Thanks to his views, Fatah remains a controversial figure in several Islamic countries. He is also known for his activism and has been active in advocacy groups that support causes like LGBT rights.

 15 Mary Ann Shadd

Mary Ann Shadd
3
Famous As: Activist
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.

 16 Amanda Brugel

Amanda Brugel
3
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: March 24, 1978
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Pointe Claire, Québec, Canada

Best known for her award-winning role of Rita in the Hulu series The Handmaid’s Tale, Canadian actor Amanda Brugel is also known for her roles in films such as Sex After Kids and series such as Paradise Falls. She has also launched Brugs Army, a non-profit body for women and children.

 17 Alissa White-Gluz

Alissa White-Gluz
3
Famous As: Vocalist
Birthdate: July 31, 1985
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Montreal, Quebec, Canada

The frontwoman of the Swedish death metal band Arch Enemy, Alissa White-Gluz is also known as the co-founder of the metalcore band the Agonist. She was once known for performing in over 250 shows a year across the globe. A true-blue vegan, she has won the Libby Award from PETA.

 18 K'naan

K'naan
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Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: May 30, 1978
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Mogadishu, Banaadir, Somalia

K'naan is the stage name of Keinan Abdi Warsame, a Somali Canadian rapper, singer-songwriter, and instrumentalist. He rose to fame when his single Wavin' Flag was chosen as Coca-Cola's promotional anthem for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. He is committed to his Somali roots and is considered a spokesperson for the Toronto Somali community. 

 19 Craig Kielburger

Craig Kielburger
3
Famous As: Canadian Author
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.  

 20 Severn Cullis-Suzuki

Severn Cullis-Suzuki
5
Famous As: Environmental activist who was named to the Global 500 Roll of Honor of the U.N. Environmental Programme in 1993
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.

 21 Patrick Moore

Patrick Moore
3
Famous As: Consultant
Birthdate: June 15, 1947
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Port Alice, British Columbia, 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.

 22 Emily Murphy

Emily Murphy
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Famous As: First Female Magistrate in Canada
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.

 23 Farley Mowat

Farley Mowat
3
Famous As: Writer
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.

 24 Nellie McClung

Nellie McClung
3
Famous As: Novelist, Writer, Politician, Human rights activist, Feminist
Birthdate: October 20, 1873
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Chatsworth, Ontario
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.

 25 Molly Burke

Molly Burke
3
Famous As: Activist, Motivational Speaker
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.

 26 Irshad Manji

Irshad Manji
3
Famous As: Author and founder of the Moral Courage Project
Birthdate: 1968 AD
Birthplace: Kampala, Uganda

 27 Melody Anderson

Melody Anderson
0
Famous As: Actress, social worker, public speaker
Birthdate: December 3, 1955
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

 28 Omar Sharif Jr.

Omar Sharif Jr.
0
Famous As: Actor, Model
Birthdate: November 28, 1983
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Montreal, Quebec, Canada

 29 Denise Ho

Denise Ho
3
Famous As: Singer, actress pro-democracy and Hong Kong human rights activist
Birthdate: May 10, 1977
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: British Hong Kong

Denise Ho is a singer and actress best known for advocating LGBT rights in Asia. In 2012, she became the first popular female singer from Hong Kong to come out as a lesbian. Also a human rights activist, Denise Ho took part in the 2014 Umbrella Movement for which she was blacklisted by the Chinese government.

 30 Marc Emery

Marc Emery
2
Famous As: Activist
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.

 31 Sarah Burke

Sarah Burke
0
Famous As: Freestyle skier
Birthdate: September 3, 1982
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Barrie, Ontario, Canada
Died: January 19, 2012

 32 Maziar Bahari

Maziar Bahari
2
Famous As: Film director, Journalist, Human rights activist
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.

 33 Anna Mae Aquash

Anna Mae Aquash
3
Famous As: Activist
Birthdate: March 27, 1945
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Shubenacadie, Canada
Died: November 30, 1975

Canadian Mi'kmaq activist Anna Mae Aquash made headlines after she was murdered soon after she participated in the Wounded Knee occupation campaign as part of the American Indian Movement. A second autopsy after her body was exhumed revealed she had been shot at the back of her head.

 34 Henri Bourassa

Henri Bourassa
2
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: September 1, 1868
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Montreal, Canada
Died: August 31, 1952

Renowned Canadian journalist and politician Henri Bourassa is best remembered for founding the newspaper Le Devoir. Though a qualified lawyer, he made a name for himself by writing on political issues and also served as a member of the Canadian Parliament, as part of the Liberal Party of Canada.

 35 Irwin Cotler

Irwin Cotler
2
Famous As: Lawyer, Politician, Human rights activist, University teacher
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.

 36 Charlie Riina

Charlie Riina
2
Famous As: Model
Birthdate: 0000 AD
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.

 37 Ursula Franklin

Ursula Franklin
0
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: September 16, 1921
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Munich, Germany
Died: July 22, 2016

 38 Dominique Anglade

Dominique Anglade
0
Famous As: Leader of the Opposition in Quebec
Birthdate: January 31, 1974
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Montreal, Quebec, Canada

 39 Robert Hunter

Robert Hunter
4
Famous As: Environmentalist
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.

 40 Megan Leslie

Megan Leslie
2
Famous As: Politician, Human rights activist
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.

 41 Tara Teng

Tara Teng
0
Famous As: Former pageant winner and Human rights activist
Birthdate: August 16, 1988
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: British Columbia, Canada

 42 Dionne Brand

Dionne Brand
0
Famous As: Poet, Novelist
Birthdate: January 7, 1953
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Guayaguayare, Trinidad and Tobago

 43 Judith Merril

Judith Merril
2
Famous As: Fiction Writer
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.

 44 June Callwood

June Callwood
1
Famous As: Journalist
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.

 45 Blair Longley

Blair Longley
2
Famous As: Politician
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.

 46 Pauline Julien

Pauline Julien
1
Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: May 23, 1928
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Trois-Rivières, Canada
Died: October 1, 1998

Apart from being a singer and actor, Pauline Julien was also a staunch feminist and a supporter for an independent Quebec. She once declined an offer to perform in front of Queen Elizabeth II, to support her cause, and was once even jailed for her involvement in the October Crisis.

 47 Charlie Demers

Charlie Demers
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Famous As: Comedian, Political Activist
Birthdate: 1980 AD
Birthplace: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

 48 Sumaya Dalmar

Sumaya Dalmar
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Famous As: Model
Birthdate: 1989 AD
Birthplace: Somalia
Died: February 22, 2015

 49 David Fraser McTaggart

David Fraser McTaggart
1
Famous As: Environmentalist
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.

 50 Martha Chaves

Martha Chaves
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Famous As: Comedian
Birthdate: 0000 AD
Birthplace: Nicaragua