Youngish White Dude says YES to indigenous peoples, visible minorities

hate to create mysteries during our run-up to Canada Day. But while the book we’re
loud-hailing is rightly called 50 Canadians
Who Changed the World
, it celebrates 49 human beings, give or take — 19
women and 30 men. Given that the human race is split 50-50, still I
felt not too bad about having achieved 38.7 per cent women.

Justin Trudeau came along and, with his first cabinet, hit 50 per cent. Talk
about raising the bar. I’m not bitter, but will note only that he didn’t have to accommodate the first half of the 20th century.

came the voices in my head. What about indigenous people? What about visible minorities? How many of those do we find among your 50 Canadian world-beaters, mister? Just how inclusive are you?

hey, I thought you’d never ask. Turns out we have a dozen — out of 49, more than 24 per cent. In Canada’s total population,
those who self-identify as

indigenous or belonging to a visible minority comprise nineteen per cent. So when it comes to being demographically
representative, this dude is ahead of the game. Yes!

The book’s table of contents included no names, only one-line descriptions. My
idea was to encourage guessing games — and it worked, here and there. Now and
then. Among a few folks. This time around, I’ll give you bold-face names and then the one-liners:

Sheila Watt-Cloutier: An Inuit activist
links climate change to human rights

Irshad Manji: A spirited Muslim
calls for an Islamic Reformation.

Douglas Cardinal: A pioneering
architect builds on his indigenous heritage

Kenojuak Ashevak: An Inuit artist
enriches world culture

Joy Kogawa: A Japanese Canadian
clears the way for minorities

Deepa Mehta: A transnational
filmmaker gives voice to marginalized women

Michaelle Jean: A Haitian immigrant
proves that pluralism works

Jay Silverheels: A talented Mohawk
blazes a trail for aboriginal actors

Oscar Peterson: First this Montreal
jazzman took Manhattan

K’naan Warsame: A flag-waving
rapper tackles trouble in Somalia

David Suzuki: An environmental
warrior awakens the world to climate change

Russell Peters: The Canadian
comedian makes the world laugh with us

did I say 19 women? Voila: Louise
Arbour, Maude Barlow, Sheila Watt-Cloutier, Irshad Manji, Naomi Klein, Jane
Jacobs, Kenojuak Ashevak, Alice Munro, Joy Kogawa, Margaret Atwood, Deepa
Mehta, Michaelle Jean, Samantha Nutt, Joni Mitchell, Celine Dion, Sarah Burke, Hayley
Wickenheiser, Brenda Milner, Sara Seager.

still leaves our mystery inclusion, our number fifty. No, it is not Northern
Dancer — though I fought hard to include that peerless progenitor. He’s
Canadian, right? Anyway, if you can’t stand the suspense, you’ll have to buy the book.
50 Canadians Who
Changed the World.
It’s available in better bookstores, and here online
from Chapters-Indigo.

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