James (Jim) Egan 1921 - 2000
Jim Egan is one of the heroes in the struggle for gay and lesbian rights in Canada. Starting in 1949, he began to publicly challenge the view that homosexuality was an illness or worse. In those early years, Jim was a lone voice demanding equality for gays and lesbians, greater public education about homosexuality, law reform and an end to discrimination. Today Jim Egan is perhaps best known for his nearly fifty-year relationship with Jack Nesbit and for their 1995 Supreme Court challenge, in which they used the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to challenge the discriminatory exclusion of same-sex couples from pension benefits under the Old Age Security Act. While it did not grant same-sex spousal recognition, the Supreme Court added sexual orientation as a prohibited grounds for discrimination under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The story of their lives and relationship was the subject of Jim Loves Jack: The James Egan Story, a film by David Adkin. As Jim reflected on the communities' recent successes at the opening of 25 Lives, he warned us to beware of complacency, saying: "as equality rights move ever closer to becoming a reality, the opposition becomes ever more hateful." (1998 Induction Statement)
Pionnier dans la lutte pour les droits des gais et lesbiennes au Canada, militant depuis 1949, connu pour sa relation quasi cinquantenaire avec Jack Nesbit et pour leur cause en Cour suprême du Canada, en 1995, où la Charte canadienne des droits et libertés fut utilsée pour dénoncer l’exclusion discriminatoire des couples de même sexe privés des bénéfices de pension en vertu de la Loi de la sécurité de la vieillesse.