International Women's Day: Women who helped shape Montreal

To mark International Women's Day, here's a look at some of the Montreal women who have helped make the city a better place.

Who are your Montreal heroines? CBC Montreal wants to hear from you

Daisy Sweeney pictured with her former student, Oliver Jones. (Radio-Canada)

Today is International Women's Day.

To mark the occasion, here are four of the many Montreal women who have helped change their city for the better.


Who are your Montreal heroines? We invite you to use the comments section below to tell us more about them.


Daisy Peterson Sweeney

Born Daisy Peterson in 1920, Sweeney is an accomplished musician and teacher, and a pillar of Montreal's black community. Sweeney is best known for setting her famous younger brother Oscar Peterson on his path to jazz greatness and teaching Montreal jazz legend Oliver Jones, among others. In 1974 she and Trevor Payne founded the Montreal Black Community Youth Choir, which became the internationally celebrated Montreal Jubilation Gospel Choir.

Henrietta Muir Edwards (1849-1931)

Henrietta Muir Edwards. (Library and Archives Canada)
Montreal's contribution to Canada's Famous Five, Henrietta Muir Edwards and her sister Amélia founded the Working Girls' Association in the city in 1875. Muir also started the magazine Working Woman of Canada while living in Montreal. After moving west, Muir, Emily Murphy, Nellie McClung, Louise McKinney and Irene Parlby led the court case that resulted in the legal reinterpretation of the word 'persons' in the 1867 British North America Act to include women.

Ellen Gabriel

Ellen Gabriel, a member of the Mohawk community in Kanesatake, became the Mohawks' de facto spokesperson during the Oka Crisis of 1990. (CBC)
Mohawk artist and aboriginal rights' activist Ellen Gabriel came to the public's attention as a spokeswoman for the Kanesatake Mohawk protesters during the 1990 Oka Crisis. Since that time she's become a leading advocate for the collective and individual rights of Indigenous peoples and a prominent defender of the rights of First Nations women.

Marie-Marcelle Godbout

Marie-Marcelle Godbout. (Facebook)

Marie-Marcelle Godbout is an icon of Quebec's movement for transsexual rights and founder of the Association des personnes transsexuelles du Québec in 1980. Godbout became a popular figure in the 1960s for her cabaret magic act Mimi de Paris and used her prominence to promote the rights of the province's transsexuals in the decades to come.