“We want women leaders today as never before, leaders who are not afraid to be called names and who are willing to go out and fight. I think women can save civilization,” said Emily Murphy, magistrate, writer, and leader of the Famous Five, in 1931.
These words can be seen as embodied by three women from the Defence community chosen as honourees for the Women in Defence and Security Luncheon held on Wed. Oct. 26.
Put on annually for the last fifteen years by the volunteer group Famous 5 Ottawa, the Famous Five luncheon this year brought together: veteran and member of parliament Karen McCrimmon; LGen. Christine Whitecross; Greta Bossenmaier, Chief of Communications Security Establishment; and Jody Thomas, first female Commissioner of the Canadian Coast Guard.
“These are women that have a significant body of work,” said Isabel Metcalfe, Chair Famous 5 Ottawa.
The luncheon honours women from all walks of life every year that have made an impact on a national scale.
“We want women to be inspired to be nation builders. The Famous Five themselves changed the Canadian Constitution. They were the instigators of the Persons Case, which made a Constitutional change in Canada. They were the only individuals that have ever successfully reformed the senate of Canada and we like to honour women who have made that kind of contribution,” explained Metcalfe.
Past honourees have included Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne; Sheila Fraser, past Auditor General of Canada; aboriginal women; and recipients of the Governor General Awards in Commemoration of the Persons Case.
Held at the Shaw Centre, more than 350 guests were expected to attend this year’s event, the largest one yet. The luncheon started off with a ceremonial entrance accompanied by three cadets from the Royal Military College of Canada. Following lunch and welcoming remarks, a RMC cadet welcomed the panel and then MP Karen McCrimmon moderated a panel discussion with Whitecross, Bossenmaier and Thomas. The ladies discussed their experiences in leadership roles within the Canadian Armed Forces and the Defence community.
“I just keep thinking what would Emily Murphy and the Famous Five, they’re all in heaven now, be thinking about a veteran, a general in the Armed Forces, a chief of the Security Establishment, and a commissioner of the Canadian Coast Guard. What would they think of that today, quite something,” said Metcalfe.