Their decades long successful battle to confirm qualification to take a seat in Canada's Senate affected women throughout the British Commonwealth. These five Non-Persons finally became PERSONS, as did all those women before them and since, born in the empire pre October 18, 1929 and born or then holding citizen status within the empire at the time, or since.
The case became known as the Famous Persons Case, and the five women fighting it, the Famous Five, and the Alberta Five.
In 1982 the federal government announced that it was creating Women's History Month in Canada and that October, would be so proclaimed annually.
We still have 4 days left for this year. While the federal government comes up with a theme for celebration annually and passing information forth to the provinces, and lists a number of events, much more needs to be done.
Back in March during International Women's Day an IPSO's survey released details about the depth of knowledge of 15 "famous" Canadian women. A full 40 percent of the 1,000 surveyed said they knew NOTHING about any of those listed. Of the 15, the highest hit was for BC's artist Emily Carr. (Only 37% knew of her.) Six of the names had a hit of 3% or less.
Nellie McClung ONE of THE FAMOUS FIVE... only had a hit of 16%. So much for being famous!
All forms of media across the country should be contacted with regards to the importance of this month and request they give the subject a much higher profile. The federal government also needs to do more to assist the provinces, who are responsible for education, to better cover these matters in their education programs. And the libraries across the country should be influenced somehow to carry more and more books on the subject.
People do not know because they, for the most part, are not hearing much about the subject. And that is where you and I must exert some energy.
I have mentioned my late mother's role in the creation of Women's History Month and interviews I did with her about her work. Many have often said that in so many areas of her expertise, she was ahead of her time. One of her interesting thoughts was that whilst the work of her, (Kay/Cathryne Armstrong, CM) Lynne Gough and Cathy Blaskow here in the greater Victoria area, with others later coming on board to do their bit, she felt she did what she could, and the rest would be up to others to carry on.
It seems too many are slipping off to the sidelines on this matter !
The blog also noted the work of internationally known and well respected historian Merna Forster. Having written several books, documentaries, and important papers on women's history, this advocate for the fairer sex has amassed an impressive collection of well deserved accolades, medals and awards.
Within the next 8 weeks Canadians from coast to coast to coast will see evidence of her national petition and website movement to have the Bank of Canada return to the practice of using a woman's image on our new ten dollar bills. The sample shown in this space last week has the image of Viola Desmond on these new bills. The first women not of Royalty, and the first of colour to be so honoured.
The Desmond story happened almost a decade before the US story of Rosa Parks being ejected from a bus for sitting in an all white section in 1955.
Sitting in the "all white" section of the Roseland Theatre on Provost Street in New Glasgow Nova Scotia (in above image,) she was asked to move upstairs to the section for coloured patrons. She refused and offered to pay the extra one cent costs due... for taxes. Management refused the penny and hauled her off to jail for the night.
Several antics in behalf of the "system" resulted in her being convicted and fined. A few years back the Honourable Lt Governor of Nova Scotia... a woman... and of colour as well, granted... posthumously, a full pardon.
It should have been an acqquital... not a pardon!
While there are only 230 recipients of the Persons Award across Canada, only four have come from the greater Victoria area.. My mother's back in 1989 was the first. Professor Benoit's was the fourth, back in 2016. She appears to the left, above while Merna Forster appears to the right with me, the thorn between these two lovely roses.
Cecelia proudly wears her Person's Award in the photo.
Born on Newfoundland, Cecelia told the audience of her breaking many molds by being the first from her community to go off tho get a degree, and to go back for another and another and lead off to decades of service... in the areas of researching women's issues in the sex trades, to abuse of women and girls, to midwifery and pregnancies, drug abuse and much more.
Cecelia serves as a scientist at the Canadian Institute For Substance Abuse Research, a Sociologist at U Vic, a Fellow at the Royal Society of Canada and the Canadian Academy of Health Scientists.
Her work involves not only research into the problems, but what is needed to deal with them, and what legal challenges regarding legislation need addressing before solutions can be implemented.
Her work involves being an author and guest speaker, and having produced well over 200 papers on these maters and is well known across the country and beyond for her accomplishments in this regard.
I would highly encourage you to Google her name, look for her website and considerable materials at the U Vic site, and her most honourable mention now at the Victoria Genealogical Society's own website.
Hopefully an entire evening meeting can be dedicated to her work in the new year.
see you all next week.