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The Famous Five

Identify the Famous Five's most significant contribution to individual rights and create a placard to promote greater respect for a basic right that is or was inadequately respected in Canada.

Outcomes References Related Resources

Suggested Activities

Students investigate the contributions of the Famous Five to individual rights by deciding which change was their greatest contribution and by creating a placard urging greater respect for a right that is or was inadequately respected.

Introduction to concept: Equality rights
Invite students to debate the fairness of various scenarios where the rights of individuals are differentiated on the basis of irrelevant considerations. Here are some suggestions:

  • boys in the class are to receive 10 extra minutes of recess time
  • students wearing blue or yellow clothing must complete an additional hour of homework
  • only girls may ask questions in class.

Discuss with the students the unfairness of according rights only to some people and not to others.

Introduction to the Famous Five
Explain to students that many of the rights we take for granted were not always granted equally to men and women. Indicate that respect for several important rights in Canada arose because of the efforts of a group of women known as the Famous Five. Provide a brief introduction to these women and to the conditions that they tried to change, including the following:

  • Until 1929, women were denied access to the Canadian Senate.
  • The word "persons" in the Constitution did not, or so it seemed, include women.

You may wish to show a video about the Famous Five. Alberta Heritage and Historica websites (see References) offer short video clips that can be downloaded.

Research the contributions of the Famous Five
Organize students into four groups. Each group will research a different aspect of the collective work of the Famous Five:

  • the "Persons" Case—recognition of a woman's right to be appointed Senator
  • women's right to vote
  • equal pay for equal work
  • the divorce inheritance law.

Invite students to generate questions to guide their inquiry or suggest that students use the 5W questions to focus their research:

  • What was the issue?
  • Who was affected by the issue? Who was involved in changing it?
  • When did it take place?
  • Where did it take place?
  • Why was the issue important?
  • How did the changes brought about from the action affect individual rights in Canada?

Arrange for students to research their assigned issue using online and print resources.

You may wish to adapt one of the charts in Reporter's Log (Support Material) to structure and assess student note taking.

You may want to point out that not all of the positions put forward by members of the Famous Five were equally respectful of everyone's rights.

Determine the most significant contribution of Famous Five
Arrange for students from each group to form new groups of four consisting of one person from each of the research groups. Explain that each new group is to consider which one of these changes was the Famous Five's most significant contribution to individual rights in Canada. Discuss criteria for the most significant contribution:

  • impacts quality of life
  • affects many people
  • has long-lasting effects.

Arrange for each group to share and defend its conclusions with the class.

Introduction to poster and demonstration placard assignment
Invite students to imagine that they are back at the time of the Famous Five. Ask students to create placards and demonstration posters to lobby for greater respect for a basic right that was not adequately respected in Canada at that time.

Alternatively, invite students to consider class discussions of current affairs to identify a current individual right that is not adequately respected. Direct students to select a human right to promote on a poster or demonstration placard.

Develop criteria for effective posters and placards
Support students in designing persuasive and informative placards by exploring the qualities and techniques used in various advertising media. Teach the techniques of persuasion, e.g., buzz words, regular folks, bandwagon effect or positive symbols, and then discuss how visuals can create powerful impressions and inform people about a topic—two other purposes of advertising.

See Creating Persuasive and Effective Visuals (Modelling the Tools) for detailed suggestions on how to teach and assess the tools for designing effective visuals.

Arrange for students to identify the techniques by analyzing samples of print ads and their effects on the viewer. Suggest the following criteria:

  • catchy—grabs the audience's attention
  • concise—requires as little reading as possible
  • comprehensive—presents all the key information; e.g., people affected, interests, issue, relevant data
  • convincing—makes viewers believe that the information on the visual is important and reliable.

Create placards
Encourage students to use the criteria to create their own persuasive and informative visuals.

Use placards to lobby for change
Hold a mock lobbying session for another class. Invite students to demonstrate with their placards. Encourage lobbying students to discuss the issues and the need for change with their audience.

You may want to hold a question-and-answer session after the demonstration to allow students to discuss the effects of the changes brought on by the actions of the Famous Five on individual rights in Canada.

Last updated: July 1, 2014 | (Revision History)
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