Leela Sharon Aheer, Minister of Culture, Multiculturalism and Status of Women, issued the following statement on Equality Day:
“On this day 35 years ago, Section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms came into effect.
“Section 15 lays out our equality rights in Canada. We are proud that everyone is equal under the law and that everyone has the right to equal protection and equal benefit of the law in this great nation of Canada. We do not tolerate discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age, or mental or physical disability.
“We owe this to women across Canada, who gathered at the Women and the Constitution conference in 1981 to lobby for these provisions and for them to apply equally to men and women.
“Strong and resilient Alberta women played a critical role in this decision. In 1973, Irene Murdoch, a farm wife from Alberta, claimed half her family’s ranch in her divorce. She was initially denied on the grounds that a wife’s routine work did not justify a share in the property. Her perseverance was a catalyst to reform family law in Canada.
“This case, along with others, inspired women such as Doris Anderson from Medicine Hat to take a stand. As the editor of Chatelaine, she was passionate about women’s issues and realized the opportunity to amend the charter to protect and empower women. Through advocacy and community leadership, she helped make Section 15 a reality.
“Today, let’s celebrate and draw inspiration from the women who saw, created, and then seized the opportunity to make this country better for each other and all Canadians.”