Famous Five

The Famous Five were Nellie McClung, Louise McKinney, Henrietta Muir Edwards, Emily Murphy, and Irene Parlby.  These five Canadian women petitioned the Supreme Court of Canada regarding the definition of the word “person” in Section 24 of the British North America Act.  This definition was of interest because the B.N.A. Act included the provision that only “qualified persons” could be appointed to the Senate.  Although the Supreme Court ruled that women were not included as persons, the Persons Case moved to the Privy Council where women were affirmed as persons, and were therefore able to serve in the Senate.

Although none of the five were ever appointed to the Senate, in 2009 they were all made honorary senators in recognition of their contribution to women’s rights in Canada.

The date of the Privy Council’s 1929 ruling on the Persons Case, October 18, is commemorated annually in Canada as Persons Day. 

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