I Am a ‘Person’

Eighty years ago today, women in Canada became “persons under the law”. Canadians Nellie McClung, Emily Murphy, Laura Crummy McKinney, Henrietta Muir Edwards, and Irene Parlby (know first as the Alberta Five, then the Famous Five), fought for the recognition of women as persons under the British North America Act. The ground breaking ‘Persons Case’ was brought before the supreme Court of Canada in 1927, and decided by the Judicial Council of Britain’s Privy Council in 1929, Canada’s highest court at the time. The Persons Case remains their most significant achievement, though the Famous Five dedicated their lives to improving their communities in immeasurable ways. They have come to represent an entire generation’s political activism, including an earlier national campaign for women’s suffrage. More recently, the Person’s Case has generated controversy. Some see the Famous Five as a symbol of women’s political rebellion and progress, and human rights in general. Others have criticized some members of the group as racist and elitist, somewhat tarnished by their connection to the  eugenics movement. Reaction to  the Famous Five have varied widely, but undoubtedly, they are recognized as significant figures in  the Canadian Women’s movement.  A bronze statue of the Five, entitled “Women are Persons!” was created by Edmonton artist, Barbara Paterson in 1999 and unveiled and dedicated on Parliament Hill in Ottawa in 2000.

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2 responses to “I Am a ‘Person’

  1. How fitting that today, yes this very day you have the chance to vote in your municipal election. After all the work so meny women did all those years ago. So, Lablady! I know it is not the best and most accessable form of voting, but I think it is important enough to do the best with what you’ve got. Not always, but sometimes.

  2. Actually Joe, I voted last week during the electronic voting phase. It was not totally accessible (security de-scramble to enter site had to audio CAPTIA), but for the very first time, no one read my ballot, watched me mark it, and I verified it myself…pretty darn close to accessible. and I am thankful that I live in an age and country where democracy is better defined than in others.

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