Earlier this week, a top 10 Canadian heroes list emerged and included Pierre Trudeau, Jack Layton and John A. MacDonald.
The list was created through an online questionnaire, where 12,000 respondents were asked the question “Which Canadians have inspired you the most over the last 150 years?”
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The Top 10 list of Canada's greatest heroes did not include any women and only one person of colour.
Top Indigenous Heroes
1. Elijah Harper
2. Alanis Obomsawin
3. Louis Riel
4. Tom Longboat
5. Rosemarie Kuptana
6. Chief Dan George
8. Daphne Odjig
9. Harold Cardinal
10. Kateri Tekakwitha
After hearing from our audience, CBC Aboriginal was inspired to ask, in a decidedly unscientific manner, who are your indigenous heroes?
Elijah Harper (Oji-Cree): In 1990, with an eagle feather raised, Manitoba's lone aboriginal MLA voiced his opposition to the Meech Lake Accord -- a constitutional amendment to gain Quebec’s acceptance of the Constitution Act. The accord had been negotiated without the consultation of First Nations and Harper's historic stance brought the accord to a standstill.
Alanis Obomsawin (Abenaki):
Louis Riel (Métis) – The founding father of Manitoba and a leader to the Métis people, Riel sought to preserve the rights and culture of the Métis among the encroachment of European influence across the country and into the west.
Tom Longboat (Onondaga): He ran the 1907 Boston Marathon 4:59 seconds faster than anyone of the previous winners. Two years later he won the title Professional Champion of the World in another . Longboat's coaches and the press didn’t approve of his training regime and called him “lazy” when he incorporated hard, easy and recovery days – something that is now the norm.
Rosemarie Kuptana (Inuit) – A tireless leader of human rights, Kuptana served as the Inuit Broadcasting Corporation president from 1983-1988 where she was instrumental in developing it to express and reflect Inuit culture and society. She was elected to a three-year term as president for the Inuit Tapirisat of Canada in 1991 – the national voice of 35,000 Inuit people.
Hiawatha (Onodaga) – Born somewhere between the 12th and 13th century, he was central figure in the establishment of the Iroquois Confederacy between the five nations of the Mohawk, Onodaga, Cayuga, Seneca and the Oneida. The Tuscarora joined later to make it what is now known as Six Nations of the Grand River.
Harold Cardinal (Cree): He rose to national prominence with the publication of The Unjust Society, in answer to then prime minister Pierre Trudeau's proclamation that Canada was a “just society.” He was the main author of the Red Paper – another satirical response to the government’s White Paper policy on the First Peoples.
There are many more names that were suggested including Haida artist Bill Reid; children rights’ advocate Cindy Blackstock; Justice Murray Sinclair; singer Buffy Sainte-Marie; Metis leader Gabriel Dumont; and Harry Daniels, who fought for the rights of Metis and non-status Indians.