It may seem odd for a woman to not legally be considered a person but nearly 90 years ago, that was exactly the case.
It took the lobbying efforts of the Famous Five — Emily Murphy, Irene Marryat Parlby, Nellie McClung, Louise McKinney and Henrietta Muir Edwards — to have women recognized in Canada as persons.
The Thunder Bay branch of the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF) held a pancake breakfast fundraiser on Wednesday in the Paterson Auditorium at the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law to commemorate Persons Day.
The local celebration comes a little later than the official Persons Day which marks the anniversary of Oct. 18, 1929, when Canada’s highest court of appeal decided the legal definition of ‘persons’ would include women.
“This was a landmark decision for equality because it allowed women a lot more rights and allowed them the right to sit on the senate,” said Natalie Gerry, chair of the local branch.
“It was such a big step for equality,” she added.
The breakfast was an inaugural event as LEAF is new to Thunder Bay.
Gerry is a recent graduate of the local law school and she and some of her fellow recent graduates decided to form a LEAF branch here in the city.
The organization raises funds to intervene in Supreme Court of Canada cases where women’s rights or gender equality will be affected.
“We saw a need for a Thunder Bay branch just to bring the perspective of Northwestern Ontario women to LEAF’s national voice because women living up in Northwestern Ontario have very different needs than women in southern Ontario,” said LEAF member Christina Comacchio.
Gerry added they’re hoping to bring Indigenous perspectives into issues as well.
“I think it’s really important we participate in funding this initiative,” she said. “I want LEAF to grow and spread and get bigger throughout Canada. I think it’s a really important project and that we should help out.”
Anyone interested in joining the organization can find more information at leaf.ca/branches/leaf-thunderbay.
Membership is free for students and $25 for non-students.