Who run the world? ‘Persons’

It’s Women’s History Month in Canada but fighting for women’s equality is hardly history

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It’s Women’s History Month in Canada and the federal government is inviting us all to celebrate “Persons Day” on Oct. 18. It was on that date in 1929 when Canada’s highest court of appeal at the time finally decided to include women in the legal definition of a “person.” This “milestone victory,” the government’s website says, “helped pave the way for women to participate equally in all aspects of life in Canada.”


Wait. Sorry. . . did the feds just say “all aspects”? “Equally”? And “pave”?!

Slow-forward 89 years and here are three firsts that happened for women in the weeks leading up to this year’s Women’s History Month.

  1. Equal pay for the female-dominated field of midwifery is a little closer to becoming a thing after midwives took the government to court and won. The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario ruled that the Ontario government had been discriminating when it came to equal pay.

  2. Canadian Donna Strickland won the Nobel Prize for physics — the first woman in  55 years to win the prestigious award. Even Wikipedia had trouble believing it.

  3. Canada now has an engineering school named after a woman: the Gina Cody School of Engineering and Computer Science at Concordia University. (It only took $15 million)

But we’re far from participating equally in all aspects of life, and we are very, very behind when it comes to including all genders in our discussions of “persons.” Statistics Canada only now is looking at including non-binary gender options in its surveys.

While the road doesn’t sound very smoothly “paved” to me, there are people of all genders trekking through the muck towards a more equitable world. Do you have any other stories of inspirational trailblazers? We’d love to hear from you. You can me an email here.

Did you hear?

  • I didn’t know the story of Carrie Best until this month. In 1946 she co-founded The Clarion, the first newspaper to be owned and published by and for Black Nova Scotians. She’s one of the women of colour celebrated this month on the feds’ Women of Impact website.
  • The Secret Life of Canada podcast about the under-told and untold stories of Canada tells the story of The secret lives of subversive women.  
  • The story of how pioneering physicist Lise Meitner discovered nuclear fission and “paved the way for women in science, and was denied the Nobel Prize.”
  • This interactive puts women on the faces of U.S. currency. The project is born out of the journey of Rosie Rios, the 43rd treasurer of the United States, who in 2015 fought to put the portrait of a woman on a U.S. bill for the first time in over a century.

Updates from our team

Aparita Bhandari is our new Scarborough reporter.

We’re thrilled to announce that Aparita Bhandari has joined The Discourse’s Toronto office as our Scarborough reporter, after working as a freelance arts and life reporter for nearly two decades.  

“I’ve always loved listening to stories, and then trying to retell them,” she says. “I am excited to join The Discourse team as their Scarborough reporter, listen deeply and tell those stories that might have been overlooked in the daily churn of the news cycle.” Read more about our newest team member and how you can talk story ideas with her here.

Real talk 

Serena Winterburn, a member of our Indigenous in the City Facebook group, posed this thought-provoking question to the group’s members:

What do you think?

More than a dozen people have responded to her post so far. Join the conversation here.


Who says pop-up books are just for kids? On Tuesday, Oct. 16 in Toronto, Pop-Up Magazine will bring its magazine to life with a night of new, true stories about the world around us. Each issue is different, with photography, film, radio and original music mixed together and performed live onstage by a cast of talented people.

As a community partner, The Discourse is able to give members a special offer of $5 off with code “MEDIA5” and one free drink ticket waiting for them at the “Guest of Pop-Up Magazine” table. Get more information and your tickets here.

Jenée Desmond-Harris with the Magik*Magik Orchestra at the Paramount Theatre.

If you want to keep learning about events like this, we invite you to become a member of The Discourse. As a member, you’ll get to go behind the scenes of our editorial process and make an impact by contributing to our investigations. Sign up here.[end]


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We won SEVEN Canadian Online Publishing Awards!

These stories wouldn’t have happened without your trust and ongoing support. THANK YOU! Will you help us produce more award-winning local journalism?

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