What Makes a Person? A Critical Look at the Persons Case and its Legacy was the first panel in LEAF’s Personhood Speaker Series, and took place on October 26, 2020.


The Personhood Speaker Series created a space to discuss what makes a ‘person’ and whose voices need centering in conversations about gender equality in 2020 and beyond.


The Persons Case is a 1929 legal decision of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council that included “women” in the legal definition of “persons”, giving certain women the ability to be appointed to the Senate of Canada. More generally, the decision gave broader legal recognition to some Canadian women. Although LEAF has celebrated the Persons Case in past years, we recognize that many women were not included in that decision and were not considered ‘persons’ under Canadian law until decades later.  There are those whose ‘personhood’ is still challenged or excluded today.

Our panel featured the Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, PC, QC, MP, former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and the first Indigenous person in that position, Bonnie Brayton, the National Executive Director of the DisAbled Women’s Network (DAWN) Canada, and Arleen Huggins, Partner at Koskie Minsky LLP. Charlene Theodore, the first Black lawyer to lead the Ontario Bar Association (OBA), moderated the event.

You can watch the recording of the panel discussion below.


This program has been accredited by the Law Society of Ontario and contains 1 hour and 30 minutes of EDI Professionalism content. For Nova Scotia lawyers, consider including this course as a CPD learning activity in your mandatory annual Continuing Professional Development Plan as required by the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society.


LEAF’s work is only possible with the generous support of our donors and funding partners. LEAF relies on donations to fund our work, including, law reform, research projects, and legal interventions. The Speaker Series was a ticketed event which attendees paid between $15-$100 to join. We are now offering the videos available for viewing on our website, but we ask that you please consider making a donation and help us continue to work towards justice and equality for all people – thank you!

The funds raised through LEAF’s Personhood Speaker Series support our work to advance substantive equality rights in Canada through litigation, law reform and education.

Thank you to our generous sponsors for making this event possible: CUPE National, UFCW Canada, Delaney Capital Management, BMO, Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, Koskie Minsky LLP, Ontario Nurses’ Association, Goldblatt Partners LLP, The Law Society of Ontario, Stockwoods LLP, Lax O’Sullivan Lisus Gottlieb LLP, Kastner Lam, Borden Ladner Gervais LLP, Lerners LLP, AMAPCEO, Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP, Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA) and Madame Premier.