Governor General’s Award in Commemoration of the Persons Case

In 1929, after two years of legal debate, Canada’s highest court of appeal declared that the word “person” included both women and men. The decision was made by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council of Great Britain and made it possible for women to serve in the Senate. It also paved the way for women’s increased participation in public and political life. The case had been brought before the courts in 1927 by five Alberta women who became known as the “Famous Five.” The case became known as the Persons Case.

The Governor General’s Awards in Commemoration of the Persons Case were created in 1979 to mark the 50thanniversary of the groundbreaking Persons Case, which changed the course of history for women in Canada.

This year, five recipients, including one from the youth category (15 to 30 years of age), have been chosen from across Canada.

Recipients of these Awards continue the tradition of courage, integrity and hard work that the Famous Five of the Persons Case inspired.

These awards recognize individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the goal of equality for women and girls in Canada.

The Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre’s Executive Director, Diane Redsky, has been chosen as one of this years recipients.

Diane Redsky is a proud mother of three children, a Kookum (grandmother) and a member of First Nation Shoal Lake #40 who has made it her life’s work to advance gender equality, particularly for Indigenous women. A noted Canadian visionary thinker and community leader, she is Executive Director of the Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre. She plays a pivotal leadership role in the Centre – the largest non-profit, Indigenous-led organization in Manitoba, employing 250 Indigenous persons, engaging more than 750 community volunteers and providing 50 programs. Ms. Redsky also served as Project Director of the National Task Force on Sex Trafficking of Women and Girls in Canada. The Task Force works with international partners to develop a strategy and recommendations, targeting such issues as what make victims vulnerable to sex trafficking. She has also been a driving force in developing resources for sexually exploited youth in Manitoba, including establishing a safe house and rural healing lodge. Ms. Redsky advocates tirelessly for programs and services that benefit Indigenous women, their families and communities. Recently, she was instrumental in bringing to Winnipeg Maori leaders from New Zealand, who gifted her with the responsibility to deliver and teach family group conferencing – an approach that heals the cycle of Indigenous family breakdown in the wake of residential schools and colonization. Since 1995, Ms. Redsky has headed her own consulting business, focusing on initiatives benefiting First Nations communities. She has received numerous awards, including the Leadership Award from the Joy Smith Foundation (2016) and the Order of Manitoba (2013). Ms. Redsky lives in Winnipeg.

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