The game is six degrees of Canadian history. Take two seemingly unrelated pieces of Canadian culture and connect the dots through various people, places and events to discover how they’re distantly — or maybe not-so-distantly — related. Along the way, we visit the quizzical and curious, the tragic and comic, and everything in between.
Goodridge Roberts, OC, painter (born 24 September 1904 in Barbados, British West Indies; died 28 January 1974 in Montréal, QC). Goodridge Roberts was a member of an extended family of poets and writers in Fredericton, New Brunswick. This included his father Theodore, his uncle Sir C.G.D. Roberts and his cousin Bliss Carman.
Roy Henry Vickers, CM, OBC, artist (born 4 June 1946 in Greenville [aka Laxgalts'ap], BC). Roy Henry Vickers is one of Canada’s most successful artists. He is perhaps best known for his limited edition prints, which are characterized by bold, often primary colours and inspired by such First Nations imagery as animals, nature and spiritual symbols. He also produces carvings, paintings and totem poles, has written several books for adults and children and is a popular motivational speaker. He is the founder of the Eagle Aerie Gallery in Tofino, British Columbia, and has received the Queen Elizabeth II Golden and Diamond Jubilee Medals. He is a recognized leader in the First Nations community and has spoken openly about his recovery from various addictions.
Quantum Tangle is a performance-based storytelling group from Yellowknife consisting of Inuk-Canadian vocalist Tiffany Ayalik and Anishinaabe-Métis guitarist Greyson (Grey) Gritt. The genre-bending duo’s music is informed by Inuit throat singing, spoken-word storytelling and blues-inspired folk rock. Inspired by their respective Indigenous ancestries, Quantum Tangle’s music explores identity, systemic racism, colonialism, the environment and Indigenous histories. Their album, Tiny Hands (2016), won the 2017 Juno Award for Indigenous Music Album of the Year.
Veronica Tennant, CC, FRSC, ballet dancer, teacher, choreographer, television producer, director (born 15 January 1946 in London, England). Veronica Tennant is one of the most prominent figures in Canada’s performing arts community. As a leading ballerina with the National Ballet of Canada, she became an international celebrity for her dramatic intensity and superb technique. Since retiring in 1989, she has worked as a teacher and choreographer, and has also forged a successful career as an award-winning TV producer and director specializing in dance programming. Tennant was the first dancer to be appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada (1975) and was promoted to Companion in 2003. A member of Canada’s Walk of Fame and the Encore! Dance Hall of Fame, she has received many awards and honorary degrees, including the Walter Carsen Prize for Excellence in the Performing Arts and the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Achievement.
Afua (Ava Pamela) Cooper, educator, historian, performance artist, poet (born 8 November 1957 in the Whithorn district of Westmoreland, Jamaica), is considered one of the most influential and pioneering voices in the Canadian dub poetry and spoken word movement. Her poems are published in numerous regional, national and international journals and anthologies. Afua Cooper also has CDs of her performances that make her work well known to the global community. In addition to her renown as a performance artist, she is an internationally-ranked historian. She has taught Caribbean cultural studies, history, women's studies and Black studies at Ryerson and York universities, at the University of Toronto and at Dalhousie University.
Charles Vincent Massey, PC, CC, governor general 1952-59, historian, business executive, politician, diplomat, royal commissioner, patron of the arts (born 20 February 1887 in Toronto; died 30 December 1967 in London, England). Massey was the country’s first Canadian-born governor general. He helped create the Order of Canada in 1967, and as a champion of the arts in Canada laid the groundwork for the Canada Council, the National Library of Canada and the National Arts Centre.
Catherine Ruth MacLellan, singer, songwriter (born 23 April 1980 in Burlington, ON). Catherine MacLellan is a contemporary folk-roots singer-songwriter whose recordings have won multiple East Coast Music Awards, Canadian Folk Music Awards, Music PEI Awards and a Juno Award. She is the daughter of “Snowbird” composer Gene MacLellan.
Joane Cardinal-Schubert, RCA, artist (born 1942 in Red Deer, AB; died 16 September 2009 in Calgary, AB). Award-winning Kainaiwa (Blood) artist Joane Cardinal-Schubert was also a successful and influential curator, lecturer, poet and director of video and Indigenous theatre. Her artworks and writing often addressed contemporary political issues such as Indigenous sovereignty, cultural appropriation and environmental concerns. She supported other Indigenous artists as a curator and activist, while also questioning methods of displaying historical and contemporary Indigenous artworks. She was a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts and a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal, the Commemorative Medal of Canada and the National Aboriginal Achievement Award in Art.