October 19, 1998
FIVE CANADIAN WOMEN HONOURED WITH GOVERNOR GENERAL'S AWARDS IN COMMEMORATION OF THE PERSONS CASE
Jacqueline Sicotte Béïque, Île-des-Soeurs, Quebec
OTTAWA -- Five outstanding Canadian women who have made unique and invaluable contributions to the cause of women's rights in Canada were presented with the Governor General's Award in Commemoration of the Persons Case today during a ceremony at Government House followed by a luncheon co-hosted by the Honourable Hedy Fry, Secretary of State (Multiculturalism) (Status of Women) and the Honourable Sharon Carstairs, Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate. The Awards, now in their 19th year, are Canada's foremost tribute to women who have made an outstanding contribution toward promoting the equality of women.
The 1998 recipients of the Governor General's Awards in Commemoration of the Persons Case have each pursued a vision of equality with a steady determination - a determination that has helped them overcome opposition to change, to accomplish the job that needed doing and inspire others to continue in their path.
Jacqueline Sicotte Béïque fought for the right of women to vote in the province of Québec; Alice J. Brown has worked tirelessly for the recognition of women as full partners in family farms; Claire Heggtveit has devoted her life to helping us understand the relationship between women's health and their social situation; Stella-Maris Zola Gule-LéJohn has laboured long and hard in the global struggle to end violence against women; and Phyllis Seymour who has dedicated her life to helping the victims of sexual abuse and violence.
The Awards, established in 1979, commemorate the lengthy legal and political struggle for women's constitutional right to be recognized as persons, undertaken in the 1920s under the leadership of five Alberta women -- Emily Murphy, Louise McKinney, Nellie McClung, Irene Parlby and Henrietta Muir Edwards. Their efforts, which became known as the Persons Case, were rewarded by the decision rendered by the British Privy Council on October 18, 1929, declaring Canadian women to be persons and thus eligible for appointment to the Senate. The Government of Canada established the Governor General's Awards in Commemoration of the Persons Case in 1979 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of this decision, and to salute the contributions of contemporary women to the advancement of women's equality.
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Cathy McRae/Anne Schroder
Status of Women Canada
Office of the Secretary of State (Status of Women)