Norma Shearer (1902-1983) was a Canadian-American Hollywood actress. She was the
first person to receive five Academy Award nominations for acting.
She started acting at the age of 19, and in
1929 got her first talking role in The Trial of Mary Dugan. She is
regarded as a feminist icon for portraying, for the first time on the big
screen, unmarried but sexually liberated women.
Roberta MacAdams (1880-1959) was a Canadian politician from Alberta. She was the
first woman to introduce and pass a piece of legislation not only in the
country, but in the entire British empire.
She initially worked as a domestic science
instructor and travelled across the country, speaking to rural women about
their work and needs, an endeavour which led to the creation of the Alberta
Women’s Institute. She later worked as a dietitian in the Canadian Army Medical
Corps. In 1917, she became the second woman ever elected to the Legislative
Assembly of Alberta, and later passed a law which recognised a veteran’s
Alice Munro (b.
1931) is a Canadian writer. She is best known for winning the Nobel Prize for
Literature in 2013.
She is a short story writer, and has
published numerous collections over a career spanning more than four decades. Her
works have won the Governor General’s Award for Fiction, Canada’s most
important literary prize, three times, as well as the Man Booker International
Prize in 2009.
Viola Desmond (1914-1965) was a civil rights activist in Canada. She helped give
rise to the civil rights movement in her country by challenging racial
segregation, refusing to give up her seat in a whites-only area of a cinema in
New Glasgow, Nova Scotia.
She was a beautician who opened her own
salon and training school, specifically for black women who were being denied
entry to whites-only beauty schools. Her defying gesture happened in 1964, and
she was forced to spend a night in jail and pay a $20 fine. She was granted a
posthumous pardon in 2010 (the first ever in Canada), and was the first black
Canadian women to be featured on a banknote.
MacDonald (1926-2015) was a Canadian politician,
and the first female foreign minister in the country. She was also known for
her humanitarian work.
She was a member of the Progressive Conservative
Party and was one of the first women to campaign for the leadership of a major
Canadian party. During her time as foreign minister, she had to deal with a
Vietnamese refugee crisis during which time she allowed more than 60,000
refugees to settle in Canada.
Scott (1928-2012) was a Canadian figure skater, known for her many feats in
international events. She was a Canadian national champion four times, World champion
twice, and the Olympic champion in 1948.
She started ice skating at the age of seven
and won her first national junior title at eleven. She is the first and the
only Canadian to win the gold medal for ladies’ single figure skating.
(1916-2006) was an American-Canadian author, journalist and activist. She
was particularly influential in urban studies, and her 1961 book The Death and Life of Great American Cities argued
that urban renewal did not respect the needs of the citizens.
She fought to prevent so-called ‘slum clearances’ in Greenwich Village,
New York, where entire blocks would have been demolished and replaced with high
rises. Her influence is proven by her introduction of sociological concepts
such as “social capital” and “eyes on the street” in urban studies. A medal in
her name was established in 2007 for individuals who bring significant
contributions to urban design.
Peters (1911-1993) was a Canadian oncologist. She conducted
lifesaving research in the field of breast cancer.
She graduated from the University of Toronto
in 1934. In 1950, she revealed a cure for patients with early Hodgkin’s
disease, considered uncurable at the time. She also discovered that breast-conserving
surgery, followed by radiation, was just as effective as mastectomy for cases
of breast cancer, which greatly improved the lives of patients. She received
several awards and honorary doctorates for her work.
Lisa Appignanesi (b. 1946) is a
British-Canadian novelist. She has served as the President of English PEN and
is currently Chair of the Royal Society of Literature.
Among her works are Memory and Desire and Freud’s Women, studies of Freud’s ideas
in relation to women, as well as Mad, Bad
and Sad : A History of Women and the Mind Doctors. The latter won the
2009 Award for the Public Understanding of Science from the British Medical
Christine Stewart (1941-2015) was a
Canadian politician who held various cabinet positions during her career, such
as Secretary of State for Latin America and Africa, and Minister of the
During her time as
Minister of the Environment, she promoted numerous actions for the
environmental protection and against climate change. After leaving politics,
she acted as a special envoy to Cameroon for the Commonwealth Secretary