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The Famous Five: Heroes for Today
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Detail of statue of Henrietta Muir Edwards by Barbara Paterson, on Parliament Hill in OttawaAlthough she is best remembered for her work with the National Council of Women of Canada (NCWC) and her expertise in legal matters, Henrietta Edwards never strayed too far from the early concern for social welfare that motivated her to found the Working Girls' Club in Montreal.

During the First World War, Edwards became a Red Cross leader. Late in the war, when allied resources were being taxed the the limit, Edwards was invited by the War Committee to advise it on how to enforce stricter conservation measures. This was the first time in Canadian history that the government had called upon a woman to assist with a review of public policy.

Edwards advised them to establish a Department of Public Health and a Department of Child Welfare. At the convention it was agreed that women were capable of doing more of the farm work that desperately needed to be done but was languishing with so many men away fighting the war. Although it was agreed that women could take on a larger role, Edwards demanded that women who worked in the same jobs as men receive the same pay. She also pointed out that though special training might be needed to equip women to fill roles in industry vacated by men, such expenditures were an investment that would pay big dividends.

Edwards was made secretary of the National Subcommittee on Thrift and Economy in Canadian Homes (a subject that she knew a fair amount about) in light of the economic practice she and her sister used to help make ends meet while publishing their magazine Working Women of Canada.

As a result of her work on the subcommittee, Edwards was called upon to address various groups on the duty of the homemaker to reduce waste and practice economy—especially in cooking. Like many who were aware of shortages, she felt it was criminal to waste food when so many people were going hungry as a result of the war.

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