Governor General of Canada and Minister Monsef recognize great contribution of six Canadian women to gender equality

News release

October 18, 2018 – Ottawa, ON – Status of Women Canada

Today, the Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister of Status of Women, announced the recipients of the Governor General’s Awards in Commemoration of the Persons Case for 2018. These outstanding Canadian women are:

  • Rina Arseneault – Fredericton, NB
  • Shirley Cuillierrier – Ottawa, ON
  • Rina Fraticelli – Toronto, ON
  • Charlotte Hrenchuk – Whitehorse, YT
  • Hélène Lee-Gosselin – Ste. Pétronille, QC
  • Alana Robert – Winnipeg, MB (Youth)

Persons Day occurs annually on October 18th. This annual celebration marks the pivotal moment in 1929 when five Canadian women – Emily Murphy, Henrietta Muir Edwards, Louise McKinney, Irene Parlby, and Nellie McClung – won the right for women to be legally recognized as “persons” under the law and thereby be appointed to the Senate. 

The Governor General's Awards in Commemoration of the Persons Case were created in 1979 to mark the 50th anniversary of the ground-breaking Persons Case. In 2000, the Youth Award was introduced to recognize the achievements of those between the ages of 15 and 30 years of age who are making a difference to advance gender equality.


“The Famous Five were trailblazers who helped remove barriers to gender equality. Almost 90 years after their historic victory, it is my pleasure to pay tribute to them and to recognize women who are making a difference in Canada today to advance gender equality. I am honoured to share this year’s occasion with Governor General Julie Payette, and congratulate the six recipients for their incredible dedication, passion, and commitment to making their country and the world a better place. Their leadership and stories are reminders that together, we can make gender equality a reality.”

The Honourable Maryam Monsef, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Status of Women

Quick facts

  • October 18th is Persons Day, marking the day in 1929 when the historic decision to include women in the legal definition of “persons” was handed down by Canada’s highest court of appeal.

  • This milestone victory gave women the right to be appointed to the Senate of Canada and paved the way for women's increased participation in public and political life.

  • Every year, the Government of Canada celebrates Persons Day and the remarkable people who carry on the legacy of the Famous Five by advancing gender equality in Canada and around the world.

  • Celebrate this year’s Persons Day by recognizing the people who are working to advance gender equality with the hashtag #MakeAnImpact.

  • A video entitled “Women. Are. Persons.” can be viewed at describing the Famous Five and the Persons Case, which paved the way for women to participate more fully in all aspects of Canadian life.

Associated links


Justine Villeneuve
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of Status of Women

Valérie Haché
Communications Officer
Status of Women Canada

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