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The Famous Five: Heroes for Today
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Community Building

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Promoting Awareness, Self-Worth, Public Participation

Status of Women, Citizenship

Legal vs. Social Equality

Reading: "It is Up to Us!"

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Portrait of Louise McKinney by Alice Tyler, displayed in the Alberta Legislature In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, women in Canada had few opportunities to be involved in public life. Their experience was predominantly restricted to the home and many, especially women who lived on farms suffered in isolation.

The Famous 5 were quick to notice that despite an influx of people to the Canadian West, social growth seemed to be stunted. Both individually and collectively, the Famous 5 emerged to improve the situation in their various communities.

They began by creating community organizations such as the United Farm Women of Alberta (UFWA) and the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). These organizations created safe gathering places for women who could unite over common causes of the day such as prohibition, female suffrage, and matrimonial property law. At these meetings, women were granted a voice and a means of support that many had lived without for years.

Bronze maquette of the Famous 5 Community organizations gave women the opportunity to take action where they perceived it was necessary, almost always for the betterment of their communities. These grassroots changes were essential to building the momentum necessary for challenging and eventually reducing restrictions placed upon women and their public participation.

The Famous 5 was instrumental in organizing women on the local, provincial, and national levels. In doing so they succeeded at strengthening communities and culture, and gaining further recognition of women by law.

 
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