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The Valiant Five

The Valiant Five or The Famous Five were five Canadian women who, in 1927 asked the Supreme Court of Canada to answer the question, "Are women persons?" The case came to be known as the Persons Case. Specifically the question was whether Section 24 of the Constitution Act, 1867, included the possibility of woman becoming senators: "The Governor General shall... summon qualified Persons to the Senate; and ... every Person so summoned shall become and be a Member of the Senate and a Senator."

The Supreme Court of Canada ruled unanimously that the word person did not include women.

The five women, Emily Murphy, Irene Marryat Parlby, Nellie Mooney McClung, Louise Crummy McKinney and Henrietta Muir Edwards, were appalled by the decision. They refused to give up and appealed the case to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London--effectively Canada's highest court then. Canadian women were delighted when, on October 18, 1929, the committee ruled that Canadian women were indeed persons. In their decision, the Privy councilors called the exclusion of women from public office "a relic of days more barbarous than ours."