Today is the 93rd anniversary of (most) women being declared persons under Canadian law in 1929. We mark Person's Day on October 18th every year with a tea party. Why a tea party? Because the Famous Five used tea parties as a cover for their organizing: check out this quick Youtube video to learn more. Although Person's Day is celebrated every year as a milestone for equality, it is crucial that we remember that many Canadian women were not included when we were declared Persons in 1929. Women of colour would not get the right to vote until the 1940's and Indigenous people didn't have full voting rights until the 1960's. Married White women were the primary beneficiaries of the Famous Five's advocacy.
It is important to acknowledge the lack of intersectionality in the Famous Five's feminism, and that they held and promoted racist, harmful views. We encourage you to read some of the criticism against the Famous Five - and other White Canadians who are celebrated for their contributions to Canadian society while their more harmful views and actions are ignored.
We would also like to share this article highlighting the work of the 'Indigenous Famous 5,' Mary Two-Axe Early, Jeannette Corbiere Lavell, Yvonne Bedard, Sandra Lovelace, and Sharon Donna McIvor in the hopes of expanding the spotlight on Canadian women who have fought to better the lives of their sisters to rightfully include more non-white settlers.
The women were leading advocates of eugenics and used their power and influence to push for legislation that led to the sterilization of nearly 3,000 Canadians (Albertans) deemed unfit to have children. Many of the victims were poor, disabled, mentally ill and aboriginal. The fact that the Famous Five were giants of women’s rights should not excuse their support for eugenics and the harm it did to innocent people. This part of their life-story must not be hidden - 'Monuments and mythology – let's not sanitize the past of famous Canadians,' The Ottawa Citizen
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Second Story Women's Centre recognizes that we are on Mi’kma’ki, the ancestral and unceded territory of the Mi’kmaw People. We honour the treaties that guide the relationships of our people.
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