Third Indigenous leaders stamp issue honours Inuit, First Nations and Métis leaders

June 25, 2024
3 minute read

Canada Post is paying tribute to Indigenous leaders with three new commemorative stamps. These women have devoted their lives to protecting the natural environment, preserving their heritage and advocating for important change. Their contributions have made a difference to their communities and to the country.

Elisapie: award-winning singer-songwriter and activist

Unconditional attachment to her territory and language and tender reflections on Inuit culture and heritage are deeply entrenched in the work of Inuk singer-songwriter, actor, director and activist Elisapie.

Born in 1977, she was raised in Salluit in Nunavik, the northernmost region of Quebec. After moving to Montréal in the late 1990s to pursue communications and music, Elisapie wrote and directed the prize-winning documentary Sila piqujippat (If the Weather Permits) and won a JUNO Award as part of the musical duo Taima.

She gained acclaim as a solo artist with the Félix Award-winning The Ballad of the Runaway Girl in 2018. The album showcased her storytelling talent and her ability to sing effortlessly in Inuktitut, English and French. Inuktitut, released in 2023, is a nostalgic compilation of covers, performed in her mother tongue, of songs by artists from Blondie to Led Zeppelin who influenced her growing up. It earned her the 2024 JUNO Award for Contemporary Indigenous Artist or Group of the Year.

“She wants to promote her culture and believes in the integration of people and cultures. Not just Indigenous and non-Indigenous, but diversity in the broadest sense. She’s a woman of many facets with a lot of drive,” says Marie-Carole Noël, vice-president of Sanajik Films.

Elisapie is creator and producer of Le grand solstice, a musical and cultural celebration televised annually to mark National Indigenous Peoples Day.

Josephine Mandamin: Grandmother Water Walker

Anishinaabe Elder and world-renowned water-rights activist Josephine Mandamin co-founded the Mother Earth Water Walk movement to draw attention to the issues of water pollution and environmental degradation on waterways in Canada and the United States.

A residential school Survivor, Mandamin was a fourth-degree member of the Three Fires Midewiwin Healing Society and a spiritual adviser and healer who performed healing ceremonies and taught others about Anishinaabe language and culture, and how to maintain a respectful relationship with Mother Earth.

Mandamin helped organize and lead a series of water walks along the shorelines of many lakes and rivers from 2003 to 2017. In that time, she circumnavigated all five Great Lakes and trekked more than 25,000 km. During her final trek in 2017, she walked from Minnesota to Quebec, more than 8,000 km.

“She had a profound impact on the ecological consciousness, in relation to the water, that we know today. And she’s had an impact in ways that I think many people don’t realize,” says ​​​Dr. Tasha Beeds, Water Walker, Minweyweywiigan Lodge Mide-Kwe. “Not just a national impact, but an international impact. She was known across the world for her movement.”

Among Mandamin’s many accolades are the Lieutenant Governor’s Ontario Heritage Award for Excellence in Conservation (2015) and the Meritorious Service Cross (2017). The Water Walker, a 2017 illustrated children’s book by Joanne Robertson, honours Mandamin and her work.

Since her death in 2019, Mandamin’s legacy has continued through community water walks and the efforts of the dedicated Anishinaabe women she mentored.

Christi Belcourt: visual artist and environmentalist

Known for her intricate paintings that emulate Métis floral beadwork, Christi Belcourt is a descendant of the community of Manitow Sâkahikan (Lac Ste. Anne) in Alberta. She uses her talent to celebrate nature, honour her ancestors, advocate for environmental protection, and support Indigenous knowledge, culture and language.

Her work can be found in many private and public collections, including the National Gallery of Canada, the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Gabriel Dumont Institute. The power of Belcourt’s art lies in both its beauty and its message.

“She reminds you very clearly, and in all of her work, that we must reconnect, that we must be part of the Earth in order for us to survive as a human family, and that we are just one family in the greater scheme of things,” says Allison Fisher, CEO of the Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health.

Among her most poignant works is “Walking With Our Sisters,” a multi-artist memorial installation of more than 2,000 pairs of beaded moccasin tops honouring the lives of missing or murdered Indigenous women, Two-Spirit people and children.

Belcourt is a co-founder, along with Isaac Murdoch, of the Onaman Collective, which focuses on community organizing around art, Indigenous languages and land-based traditional knowledge and practices. Along with Murdoch, Belcourt created images in support of land and water protection that have been provided, free or charge, for use in numerous protests across North America.

Belcourt’s many honours include a Governor General’s Innovation Award for advocating for the rights of Indigenous Peoples and recognition of their lands.

Canada Post launched the Indigenous Leaders stamp in 2022. This is the third issue in that ongoing series which aims to celebrate the accomplishments of Indigenous leaders who impact their communities locally, provincially or federally. Selection of this year’s incredible leaders was guided by Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, the Assembly of First Nations, and the Métis National Council.

New stamps honour Indigenous leaders

Available now