Often noted in this space, a call has been put out for the Black communities and women's groups to honour and celebrate several individual groups and citizens. Those who have have come forth, and those hopefully that have yet to join in efforts to remember and give today's communities the support needed to preserve the heritage left us by those non whites and the women of the country who have done so much to the pave the roads we now walk.
On Feb. 1 of this year Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a release sharing his view that ..."Black people have helped shape our history and collective identity, and stood proud as leaders in communities across the country." His statement..."reminds us of the importance of learning about Black experiences in Canada, (and) recognizing and addressing injustices."
His release noted as well that.... "more stills needs to be done and the government remains committed to this work." He went on to ask Canadians to ... "reflect on the challenges and accomplishments of Black Canadians, and to learn more about the vital roles they continue to play in building a stronger, fairer, and more inclusive country."
Here are two snipets not well known by most Canadians.
Pierre Trudeau was born on 18 October 1919. Ten years later... to the day, Lord Sankey, the Lord Chancellor for Great Britain handed down the decision in Canada's famous Persons' Case.
In early days women were not permitted to membership in the Canadian Senate, relying on antiquated law dated back centuries, when women were considered chattels of men and were in fact... not actual Persons in the eyes of the law. And as such not allowed to hold a seat in the Canadian senate which only allowed PERSONS to be so appointed.
For a decade if not more, women fought this line of reasoning, and for several of the later years five Alberta women .... the Famous Five, AKA the Alberta Five, written about in earlier blogs in this space, fought with various levels of government and the courts and, as a last appeal, to Britain for a decision on the matter.
Fifty years later Pierre Elliott Trudeau lost his seat to a new government headed by Joe Clarke.
And it was PM Joe Clarke who took the matter to England to create a medal for women, celebrating this earlier case, and ultimately the creation of the Persons Award. For unknown reasons, years later the name morphed into the Governor General's Award in Commemoration of the Persons Case.
With the creation of the award a decision was made to annually select five, and sometimes 6 or 7 recipients and formally present each the award by the Governor General at Ottawa.
I believe only 230 awards have been presented since inception. I can only find four coming to Victorians. University of Victoria Professor Cecile Benoit was one of the four, receiving her's in 2016.
For reasons yet to be satisfactorily explained, I have yet to discover why no further Persons Awards have been awarded or presented since 2018. A matter that I hope would be addressed by the honourable Richard Wagner, former Chief Justice of Canada's Supreme Court, as soon as possible. As Chief Justice he was also the Deputy Governor General of Canada.
The day after the Right Honourable Julie Payette's resignation as GG, Wagner was sworn in with the title of Administrator of Canada. Presumably, in time he may well be Canada's next Governor General.
He appears below as Chief Justice.
I will return on Sunday May 16th to continue with this story and the penny causing jail time.
Please join me then,