Today in Canada's Political History - January 27, 1945: Birth of Indigenous rights advocate Harold Cardinal

Pioneering Indigenous political leader Harold Cardinal was born on this date in 1945. He spent his childhood on the Sucker Lake Reserve. As a young politician he played a foundational role in the establishment of the National Indian Brotherhood which would eventually become the Assembly of First Nations.

He rise to national prominence was due in large part due to his fierce opposition to the government of Pierre Trudeau’s White Paper on Indigenous affairs. Cardinal’s famous book, known as the “Red Paper,” played a powerful role in the eventual withdraw of the White Paper by the Trudeau government. He also wrote The Unjust Society in further response to the federal government’s planned policies towards Indigenous Canada.

Cardinal later became a leading legal scholar studying the relations between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous in contemporary Canada.

Mr. Cardinal passed into history in 2004.

Arthur Milnes is an accomplished public historian and award-winning journalist. He was research assistant on The Rt. Hon. Brian Mulroney’s best-selling Memoirs and also served as a speechwriter to then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper and as a Fellow of the Queen’s Centre for the Study of Democracy under the leadership of Tom Axworthy. A resident of Kingston, Ontario, Milnes serves as the in-house historian at the 175 year-old Frontenac Club Hotel.