What is the best gift you’ve ever been given? Would you ever think about giving that gift away to someone else who might need it?
The actions of Canadian women’s rights activist and reformer, Henrietta Muir Edwards (18 December 1849 – 10 November 1931), may just inspire you.
AN EXTRAVAGANT GIFT: Henrietta was born into a wealthy family that lived in Montreal. When she was 19, she asked her father for a gift – she wanted him to buy her a house!
A GREATER PURPOSE: But Henrietta did not keep the house for herself.
She turned it into a home for young working women. It became a place where they could learn and be safe and comfortable. This house later became the very first YWCA in all of Canada.
OBSTACLES OVERCOME: Henrietta soon realized that maintaining this house would be expensive. So, she started the first magazine for women in Canada and sold subscriptions for it! She also sold her own painted china to make money to pay the bills. Henrietta was clearly very creative and resourceful!
AN EVEN GREATER PURPOSE: Henrietta was also active in many religious organization, where she developed deep concern over the old traditions of women being excluded. In 1927, she and four other women: Nellie McClung, Emily Murphy, Louise McKinney and Irene Parlby, who together came to be known as “The Famous Five” (also called “The Valiant Five”), launched the “Persons Case,” contending that women could be “qualified persons” eligible to sit in the Senate. The Supreme Court of Canada ruled that current law did not recognize them as such. However, the case was won upon appeal to the Judicial Committee of the British Privy Council—the court of last resort for Canada at that time.
Are you inspired to give to those around you? How can you get creative with the gifts you have been given?