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People and organizations

Naomi McCormack

  • CA ON00349 2019.012
  • Person
  • ?? - present

Although she is rightfully celebrated as an award-winning filmmaker – her 1996 short film The Hangman’s Bride was the recipient of a Canadian Screen (formerly Genie) Award for Best Live Action Short Drama – Naomi McCormack’s oeuvre is truly interdisciplinary in nature. Outside of film/video, she has also made significant forays into the worlds of dance, theatre, installation, and performance.

McCormack comes from a creative family. Her twin sister Thelma is an accomplished author; Thelma’s short story Plural, a fictionalized memoir on the life of twins, was adapted for the screen by Naomi. Another notable figure within the family is the late Thelma McCormack, who gained huge public notoriety in 1979 when she took the stand to defend gay Canadian publication The Body Politic against government censorship. In a Daily Xtra obituary for Thelma, Naomi noted that her mother continuously fostered a home environment of curiosity.

Beyond her own work, Naomi has contributed to the creative world as a professor of film (Humber College, Penn State University). She has also completed significant curatorial and programming stints within Toronto (Harbourfront Centre, Female Eye Festival, Euclid Theatre) and elsewhere (the UK-based WOMAD Festival). Most recently branching out to behind-the-scenes work, McCormack was a credited producer for the 2018 film Keely and Du.

Jacques Israelievitch

  • CA ON00349 2017.05
  • Person
  • 1948-2015

The rare public figure to be named both a Member of the Order of Canada and an Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters in France, Juno Award-nominated musician Jacques Israelievitch left an indelible impression on the music scene, both within and beyond the borders of Toronto. Perhaps best known for his two decades serving as concertmaster of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra – the longest tenure for that position in the organization’s history, running from 1988 to 2008 – Israelievitch also head significant conducting roles with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (assistant concertmaster, 1972-1978) and St. Louis Symphony (concertmaster, 1978-1988). Joining the former at the age of 23, he was the youngest member in the company’s history.

Israelievitch was a prolific artist, performing on more than 100 recordings and working with a number of distinguished artists, including Emanuel Ax, Yefim Bronfman, and Yo-Yo Ma. Perhaps one of his most special musical partnerships was his son Michael, a percussionist with whom Jacques combined to form the Israelievitch Duo. In this pairing of generations, one might ascertain a sense of the joy that the elder Israelievitch received from translating his personal skill to the world of teaching. Within the Toronto context, he held faculty positions at University of Toronto, York University, and the Royal Conservatory of Music. He also led master classes at numerous institutions, including McGill University, University of California - Los Angeles, and University of Michigan. Never one to rest on his laurels, he also spent 16 summers teaching at New York’s Chautauqua Institution.

Around the time of his retirement in 2008, Israelievitch was presented with a lifetime achievement award by the Toronto Musicians Associations, marking his distinguished career. True to form, he was creating right up until his 2015 death, at which time he was completing a final project, a comprehensive recording of the Mozart Sonatas and Variations. His legacy lives on through the Jacques Israelievitch Endowment for Violin/Viola and Interdisciplinary Arts, established posthumously by York University.

Sheridan, Miriam

  • Person

Miriam Sheridan (née Marshall) was a graduate of Victoria University, Class of 1920. She was active in the United Church of Canada Women's Missionary Society, and served as Secretary of Work for Mission Circles, Ottawa Presbyterial. She was born Miriam Marshall, the daughter of Rev. Sandford E. Marshall.

Chelvanayakam, Samuel James Velupillai

Samuel James Velupillai Chelvanayakam was born in Ipoh, Malaysia on 31 March 1898 to Viswanathan Velupillai, a businessman, and Harriet Annamma Kanapathipillai. He moved to Tellippallai, Sri Lanka, with his mother, two brothers, and sister (only his brother E. V. Ponnuthurai survived past childhood) in order to receive his early education at Union College, Tellipalai for eight years. From then he studied for five years at St. Johns College, Jaffna, and then to St. Thomas’s College, Mount Lavinia. Chelvanayakam graduated from the University of London as an external student in 1918 with a degree in Science. In 1927 he married Emily Grace Barr-Kumarakulasinghe. They had four sons and one daughter.

He was a teacher at St. Thomas’s College until moving to Wesley College in 1919 to teach Mathematics. He later became the Head of the Science Department. He attended lectures at the Law College and sat for the law examinations at the Law College while he was still teaching at Wesley College. Chelvanyakam started his legal career in the Court of Requests in Colombo. He set up a private practice first in Hultsdorp and later in St. Sebastian Hill. From the Court of Requests, Chelvanayakam moved to the District Court and later to the Appellate Courts. He was made Queen’s Counsel on 31st May 1947.

Chelvanayakam then left his practice and joined politics as a primary organizer of the All Ceylon Tamil Congress (ACTC) in 1944. He was elected as a member of Parliament for the first time in September 1947. On 18 December 1949, Chelvanayakam launched the Ilankai Thamil Arasu Kadchi (ITAK, also known as the Federal Party) along with E. M. V. Naganathan and V. Navaratnam elected as joint General Secretaries. He was also a director of the Tamil newspaper Suthanthiran (Freedom).

Chelvanayakam was known by Tamils as Thanthai Chelva (Father Chelva) because of his interest in safeguarding the identity and interests of Tamil people.

Together with the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka he signed the Bandaranaike-Chelvanayakam Pact on 26 July 1957 which would request parity for the Tamil language; cessation of colonization on traditional Tamil-speaking homelands; give reginal autonomy for the Tamil provinces; and restore the citizenship and rights of the upcountry Tamils (S. J. V. Chelvanayakam and the Crisis of Sri Lankan Tamil Nationalism / A. J. Wilson). On 24 March 1965 he signed the Senanayake-Chelvanayakam Pact which addressed the Tamil Language Special Provisions Act No. 28 of 1958 but this was not passed.

Chelvanayakam’s health declined due to Parkinson’s disease and in 1961 he had surgery in Edinburgh. After suffering from a fall resulting in head injuries in March 1977, Chelvanayakam passed away on 26 April 1977.

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