Gower (1931-2013) was
a Canadian politician and women’s rights advocate. She was also a commissioner
of the Canadion Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.
worked as a nurse in Vernon, British Columbia, and eventually became a city
councillor. As part of her work with the CRTC, she campaigned for improved
portrayals of women in the media.
Louise McKinney (1868-1931) was a politician and feminist activist from Canada. She became
the first woman to be elected to a legislature in the entire British Empire
when she was sworn into the Legislative Assembly of Alberta in 1917.
She was one of the Famous Five, a group that
successfully campaigned for the right of women to be appointed to the Canadian Senate.
She is recognized by the government as a Person of National Historic
Daphne Odjig (1919-2016) was a First Nations artist from Canada. Her efforts were
crucial in bringing native Canadian art to the forefront of the country’s
She started drawing when she was a child, but
first gained recognition for her work in the 1960s, particularly for her illustrations
of traditional Cree communities and people. She opened the first gallery in
Canada to exclusively feature the art of Native Canadians, and co-founded the
Professional Native Indian Artists Incorporation in 1973.
Helen Creighton (1899-1989) was a Canadian
folklorist. Over a career that lasted several decades, she collected over 4000
stories, songs and other cultural traditions from all over the country.
She studied in Halifax, and later became the dean of women
at the University of King’s College in the city. She received three Rockefeller
Foundation fellowships to help her collect traditional songs of Canada,
including the popular “Farewell to Nova Scotia”. She was made a Member of the
Order of Canada in 1976.
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.