Our goal is to celebrate women's successes, and inspire them to become Nation Builders in the legacy of the Famous Five.

About us

Prior to 1929, Canada’s constitution said that only “qualified persons”—meaning men only—could be appointed to the Senate. It was in that year that five courageous and idealistic Canadian women stepped onto the world stage to challenge these antiquated laws and conventions. By insisting that women be officially recognized as persons in the fullest legal sense of the word the “Famous Five”, as they became known, set a stirring example of leadership that altered all Commonwealth nations’ laws and, with it, the course of history.

Famous 5 Ottawa holds a series of luncheon events honouring prominent women who lead. In October, we host our annual event to recognize the "Governor General’s Persons" Case Award Recipients as Nation Builders. At our events, we honour women who have made contributions at the national and international levels. Past recipients have included former Supreme Court Justice Louise Arbour, Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion, former Deputy Prime Minister Sheila Copps, Sen. Pamela Wallin, Hon. Flora MacDonald, former Minister Jean Augustine, Olympic Gold medalist Hayley Wickenheiser, former NDP leader Audrey McLaughlin, former PEI Premier Sen. Catherine Callbeck, former MP Deborah Grey, Inuit activists Mary Simon and Sheila Watt Cloutier, Nunavut Premier Eva Aariak, former Auditor General Sheila Fraser, Former National Chief Betty Ann Lavalee, NWAC President, Michele Audette, Wabano’s Allison Fisher, Premier Kathleen Wynne, female political party leaders Jenni Byrne, Katie Telford and Anne McGrath.

Today, Famous 5 Ottawa works to ensure the legacy of the Famous Five is known and celebrated. In their spirit, we also honour today’s female trailblazers and work to inspire and empower future generations of leaders.


Famous 5 Ottawa – a volunteer group – was instrumental in persuading the government to place the Women Are Persons! Monument on Parliament Hill to commemorate the efforts of Emily Murphy, Nellie McClung, Irene Parlby, Henrietta Muir Edwards and Louise McKinney. They also worked to ensure the $50 bill recognized women as Nation Builders.

The Famous 5 Foundation was established on October 18, 1996—the anniversary of the "Persons" Case—and registered as a not-for-profit charitable corporation in 1997. The Foundation’s mission is to empower women and girls to courageously lead change that contributes to a society without boundaries for women, in the spirit of the Famous Five.

In 2004, the founder and original President of the Famous 5 Foundation, Frances Wright, received a "Governor General" Award in Commemoration of the "Persons" Case, on behalf of the many who built the Famous 5 Foundation. The award honours those who have made outstanding contributions to the quality of life for women in Canada.

Through a sponsorship from Enbridge, Famous 5 Ottawa was founded in 2006 as a non-profit organization dedicated to inspire and educate women to become Nation Builders in the legacy of the original Famous Five.

our values and guiding principles 

Integrity, Honesty, Respect, Determination, Courage and Equality. 

These are the values and guiding principles behind all our projects and endeavours. Our Manifesto also serves to inspire our actions on a daily basis, as we strive to encourage and empower a new generation of nation builders.



We know today’s privileges are the results of yesterday’s
efforts, and we want the whole story—
We are curiou5.
We are the new leaders and future leaders, and we’re here
to shape our nation—
We are ambitiou5.
We have the spirit of discovery, and the desire to explore
our great country an d beyond—
We are adventurou5.
We are leaders in science, art, politics, education,
healthcare; masters of our crafts—
We are ingeniou5.
We are prepared for acts of high and splendid bravery
for progress and equality—
We are courageou5.

We are famou5.


Close up of Famous 5 ottawa committee members

Chair, Communications Committee

Chair, Outreach Committee
Susan Murray

Chair, Fundraising Committee

Chair, Christie Lake Kids Partnership
Michelle Cochrane

Isabel Metcalfe→

Mary Jessop

Katherine Rydel

Chair, Program Committee
Beatrice Keleher Raffoul