Persons Day is an annual celebration in Canada, held on October 18. The day commemorates the case of Edwards v. Canada (Attorney General) , more commonly known as The Persons Case – a famous Canadian constitutional case decided on October 18, 1929, by the Judicial Committee of the Imperial Privy Council, which at that time was the court of last resort for Canada. The Persons Case held that women were eligible to sit in the Senate of Canada.
Canada is a country in the northern part of North America. Its ten provinces and three territories extend from the Atlantic to the Pacific and northward into the Arctic Ocean, covering 9.98 million square kilometres, making it the world's second-largest country by total area. Canada's southern border with the United States, stretching some 8,891 kilometres (5,525 mi), is the world's longest bi-national land border. Its capital is Ottawa, and its three largest metropolitan areas are Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver. As a whole, Canada is sparsely populated, the majority of its land area being dominated by forest and tundra. Consequently, its population is highly urbanized, with over 80 percent of its inhabitants concentrated in large and medium-sized cities, with 70% of citizens residing within 100 kilometres (62 mi) of the southern border. Canada's climate varies widely across its vast area, ranging from arctic weather in the north, to hot summers in the southern regions, with four distinct seasons.
The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC) is the highest court of appeal for certain British territories and Commonwealth countries. Established on 13 August 1833 to hear appeals formerly heard by the King-in-Council, the Privy Council formerly acted as the court of last resort for the entire British Empire, and continues to act as the highest court of appeal for several independent Commonwealth nations, the Crown Dependencies, and the British Overseas Territories.
The supreme court is the highest court within the hierarchy of courts in many legal jurisdictions. Other descriptions for such courts include court of last resort, apex court, and highcourt of appeal. Broadly speaking, the decisions of a supreme court are not subject to further review by any other court. Supreme courts typically function primarily as appellate courts, hearing appeals from decisions of lower trial courts, or from intermediate-level appellate courts.
While not a civic holiday, several women's groups across Canada make significant note of the day, including The Women's Legal Education and Action Fund.
In the 1900s, social change in the Canadian west- including, as at Alberta, a shift from a rural to urban population-came to result in alcohol abuse and prostitution. Some women considered this to be the result of the outnumbering of women by men, and were motivated to improve the state of their society through involvement in politics. In 1916, Alberta passed legislation granting women the right to vote. However, the use of the word 'person' in the federal act was considered by some to mean that the act was indicating that only a man could be a person; the word 'persons' was employed to indicate more than one person, but when talking about one person the pronoun was 'he'. This was seen as preventing women from full participation in politics or affairs of state.
Persons Day originated with The Famous Five- Emily Murphy, Nellie McClung, Irene Parlby, Louise McKinney and Henrietta Muir Edwards. Emily Murphy, who led the case in 1927, was the first woman in the British Empire to be appointed magistrate in 1916.McClung was the first woman on the CBC Board of Governors and a representative to the League of Nations. McKinney was the first woman sworn into the Alberta Legislature and in the British Empire. Parlby, who was also in the Alberta Legislature, helped pass 18 bills, which helped women and children, and was also the second female cabinet minister in the British Empire. Edwards is known for establishing the National Council of Women in 1890.
The Famous Five, or The Valiant Five, were five prominent Canadian suffragists who advocated for women and children. They asked the Supreme Court of Canada to answer the question, "Does the word 'Persons' in Section 24 of the British North America Act, 1867, include female persons?" in the case Edwards v Canada. The five women, Emily Murphy, Irene Marryat Parlby, Nellie Mooney McClung, Louise Crummy McKinney and Henrietta Muir Edwards, created a petition to ask this question. They fought to have women legally considered persons so that women could be appointed to the Senate. The petition was filed on August 27, 1927, and on April 24, 1928, Canada's Supreme Court summarized its unanimous decision that women are not such "persons".
Emily Murphy was a Canadian women's rights activist, jurist, and author. In 1916, she became the first female magistrate in Canada, and in the British Empire. She is best known for her contributions to Canadian feminism, specifically to the question of whether women were "persons" under Canadian law.
Nellie Letitia McClung, was a Canadian author, social activist, suffragette, and politician. She was a part of the social and moral reform movements prevalent in Western Canada in the early 1900s. Her great causes were women's suffrage and the temperance. It was largely through her efforts that in 1916 Manitoba became the first province to give women the right to vote and to run for public office.
In the Persons Case of 1927, Murphy, McClung, Parlby, McKinney and Edward questioned the Supreme Court of Canada regarding women not being included in the word 'person' according to the B.N.A. Act.After five weeks of debate, the court ruled that the word 'person' would continue to exclude women. The five women then went to London, to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council of Great Britain, this being the highest level of court appeal possible at the time. On October 18, 1929, the Lord Chancellor of Great Britain, Lord Sankey, announced that the court's decision was that the word 'person' would include women:
"The exclusion of women from all public offices is a relic of days more barbarous than ours. And to those who would ask why the word "person" should include females, the obvious answer is, why should it not?"
In 1979, on the 50th anniversary of the Privy Council's decision, the Canadian government instituted the Governor General's Awards in Commemoration of the Persons Case to recognize outstanding contributions in advancing equality for women in Canada. The Awards are presented at a ceremony each Persons Day.People can be nominated annually to receive honours for their contributions to gender equality.
Lawrence Hill is a Canadian novelist, essayist and memoirist. He is best known for his 2013 Massey Lectures Blood: The Stuff of Life, his 2007 novel The Book of Negroes and his 2001 memoir Black Berry, Sweet Juice: On Being Black and White in Canada.
Doris Hilda Anderson, was a Canadian author, journalist and women's rights activist. She is best known as the editor of the magazine Chatelaine who mixed traditional content with thorny social issues of the day, putting the magazine on the front lines of the feminist movement in Canada. Her activism beyond the magazine helped drive social and political change in the country, enshrining women's equality and making her one of the most well-known names in the women's movement in Canada.
Louise McKinney née Crummy was a Canadian politician and women's rights activist from Alberta, Canada. She was the first woman sworn into the Legislative Assembly of Alberta and the first woman elected to a legislature in the British Empire. She served in the Alberta legislature from 1917 to 1921 as a member of the Non-Partisan League. Later she was one of the Famous Five who campaigned successfully for the right of Canadian women to be appointed to the Senate. A former schoolteacher and temperance organizer, she came to Alberta in 1903 as a homesteader.
Stephen Mandel is a Canadian politician and leader of the Alberta Party since 2018. He previously served as an Alberta cabinet minister from 2014 to 2015 and as mayor of Edmonton, Alberta for three terms from 2004 to 2013. Prior to being mayor, he was a councillor for three years.
John Wesley "Buzz" McClung was a historian, lawyer, jurist, and a judge of the Alberta Court of Appeal.
Henrietta Muir Edwards was a Canadian women's rights activist and reformer. She was the eldest of "The Famous Five", along with Emily Murphy, Nellie McClung, Louise McKinney and Irene Parlby, who fought to have women recognized as "persons" under the law, and for the woman's right to vote in elections.
Mary Irene Parlby was a Canadian women's farm leader, activist and politician.
Indira Vasanti Samarasekera, , was the 12th president and vice-chancellor of the University of Alberta. She has been a member of the Independent Advisory Board for Senate Appointments, which advises on appointments to the Senate of Canada, since 2016.
The King's University located in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, is a private Christian university offering bachelor's degrees in the arts, humanities, music, social sciences, natural sciences and commerce/management, as well as an education after degree. King’s currently serves more than 800 students from across Canada and abroad, representing more than 16 nations.
Edwards v Canada (AG)—also known as the Persons Case—is a famous Canadian constitutional case that decided in 1928 that women were eligible to sit in the Senate of Canada. The legal case, put forward by the Government of Canada on the lobbying of a group of women known as the Famous Five, began as a reference case in the Supreme Court of Canada, which ruled that women were not "qualified persons" and thus ineligible to sit in the Senate. The case then went to the Judicial Committee of the Imperial Privy Council, at that time the court of last resort for Canada within the British Empire and Commonwealth. The Judicial Committee overturned the Supreme Court's decision.
Laurie Blakeman is a Canadian politician, who represented the electoral district of Edmonton-Centre in the Legislative Assembly of Alberta. She is a member of the Alberta Liberal Party, and was first elected in the 1997 election.
Kent Hehr is a Canadian politician from Alberta. He was elected as the Liberal Member of Parliament for the riding of Calgary Centre in the 2015 federal election. Hehr was named Minister of Veterans Affairs in the federal Cabinet, headed by Justin Trudeau, on November 4, 2015, and was shuffled to be Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities in August 2017. Hehr resigned from cabinet on January 25, 2018, after allegations of workplace misconduct surfaced from when he was the Member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta for Calgary-Buffalo.
The National Council of Women of Canada is a Canadian advocacy organization based in Ottawa, Ontario aimed at improving conditions for women, families, and communities. A federation of nationally-organized societies of men and women and local and provincial councils of women, it is the Canadian member of the International Council of Women (ICW). The Council has concerned itself in areas including women's suffrage, immigration, health care, education, mass media, the environment, and many others. Formed on October 27, 1893 in Toronto, Ontario, it is one of the oldest advocacy organizations in the country. Lady Aberdeen was elected the first president of the National Council of Women of Canada in 1893. Prominent Council leaders included Lady Gzowski, Dr. Augusta Stowe-Gullen, and Adelaide Hoodless.
Human rights in Canada have come under increasing public attention and legal protection since World War II. Prior to that time, there were few legal protections for human rights. The protections which did exist focused on specific issues, rather than taking a general approach to human rights. There were notable events in Canada's history which would today be considered violations of human rights.
Frederick Lee Morton, known commonly as Ted Morton, is a Canadian politician and former cabinet minister in the Alberta government. As a member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta, he represented the constituency of Foothills-Rocky View as a Progressive Conservative from 2004 to 2012. He did not win reelection in the 2012 Alberta general election. Morton was a candidate for the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Association in its 2006 and 2011 leadership elections. Dr. Morton is currently an Executive-in-Residence at the School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary and Senior Fellow, Energy and Environment, at the Manning Foundation. He also serves on the Board of the Alberta Land Institute and the Board of Governors of the Council of Canadian Academies.
The Calgary Inferno is a women's ice hockey team that joined the Canadian Women's Hockey League for the 2011–12 season. The team plays its home games at Joan Snyder at WinSport Canada in Calgary, Alberta. After two seasons without an official name, in 2013 the team picked a moniker drawing from Calgary's National Hockey League franchise, the Calgary Flames, with whom they have a partnership. For the 2013-14 it was announced that all Inferno home-games will be streamed live by PCSN.tv.
The Charter of Quebec Values was Bill 60 in the Canadian province of Quebec, introduced by the governing Parti Québécois in 2013 under Premier Pauline Marois, trying to legislate the Quebec controversy on reasonable accommodation. The PQ cabinet member forwarding the bill was Bernard Drainville, Minister responsible for Democratic Institutions and Active Citizenship. Premier Marois also threatened invoking the notwithstanding clause of the Constitution of Canada to pass the Charter in 2013. There was much controversy in Quebec and elsewhere about the charter, especially its proposed prohibition of public sector employees from wearing or displaying conspicuous religious symbols.