Transcript of Women are Persons – Decoding Art – Heritage Monuments
Narrator: "This capsule is presented by Canadian Heritage."
[Canadian Heritage signature]
[Statues of five women, three are standing up and two are sitting at a table looking at them]
Narrator: "This statue depicts a scene from Canadian history. Until 1929, women were not considered persons under Canadian law. Here, five exceptional Canadian women who led the fight for legal recognition as persons have just learned that they'd won.
"Section 24 of the British North America Act prohibited women from becoming senators because they weren't considered to be 'properly qualified persons.'
"The Famous Five—Emily Murphy, Irene Parlby, Louise McKinney, Henrietta Muir Edwards and Nellie McClung—fought to have the law changed. The case ended up before the Supreme Court.
"The Court ruled against the women, but the Privy Council overturned the decision several months later – a milestone in the history of human rights in Canada.
"In 2009, the Senate named them as Canada's first honourary senators.
"This artwork, unveiled in 2000, is the first monument on Parliament Hill to commemorate Canadian women. The artist, Barbara Paterson, chose to portray the women as average folk: Wearing plain period dress and placing them on the ground, rather than on pedestals, as with most other national politicians and monarchs.
"Marking that they were ordinary women but with extraordinary strength, the sculpture setup invites visitors to mingle with them as they are toasting their renowned victory over a cup of tea.
"An identical monument stands in Alberta, the province where all five women lived at the time."