TORONTO, March 8, 2018 - On March 8th, the Canadian Race Relations Foundation would like to acknowledge the commemoration of International Women’s Day. This year, the official Canadian International Women’s Day theme is #MyFeminism. The Government of Canada defines feminism as “equality for women, men and people of all gender identities. Achieving gender equality means that everyone has the opportunity to reach their full potential.” The Canadian Race Relations Foundation wants to take this day to recognize courageous Canadian women that have worked towards full equality and propelled Canada forward as a nation.
The late 19th century saw a rise in the suffragette movement in Canada. Women such as Emily Howard Stowe (Ontario), Mary Ann Shadd Cary (Ontario), Eliza Ritchie (Nova Scotia), Anna Leonowens (Nova Scotia), Augusta Stowe-Gullen (Ontario), and The Famous Five (Alberta), along with influential women’s groups such as the Toronto Women's Literary Club, Dominion Women's Enfranchisement Association, the Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), and the National Council of Women, fought for this important right.
On 28 January 1916, Manitoba women became the first in Canada to win both the right to vote and to hold provincial office, with British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Alberta following shortly thereafter. Women gained the right to vote in Ontario in 1917, in Nova Scotia in 1918, in New Brunswick in 1919, in Prince Edward Island in 1922, and in Quebec in 1940. Women gained the right to vote in federal elections in 1918.
However, the definition of women, in those days, does not seem to include women who are visible minorities. For example, Asian women did not win the right to vote federally until 1948, and Indigenous women would not win this right until 1960. It is important to acknowledge this distinction.
More recently, the Canadian Race Relations Foundation wants to acknowledge the growing #metoo movement. We are inspired to hear empowered female voices speak out against injustice, violence, and discrimination. Through the admissions and dialogues spawned from this movement, we hope that we can advance towards a more equitable society for all.
However, we must ensure that the intersectionality of race and gender is not forgotten when speaking about issues surrounding women. Racial discrimination further exacerbates gender discrimination and, because of this, we need to speak out regarding the challenges facing women of colour in history and today and push for greater representation of women of colour. We are delighted to see Viola Desmond being chosen to represent Canadians on Canadian currency, but we need more recognition of racial minority women throughout Canadian history and society as we celebrate the international Women’s Day.
For more information on Great Women in Canadian History, feel free to visit the resources listed below:
About the Canadian Race Relations Foundation
The purpose of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation is to facilitate throughout Canada the development, sharing and application of knowledge and expertise in order to contribute to the elimination of racism and all forms of racial discrimination in Canadian society. The work of the Foundation is premised on the desire to create and nurture an inclusive society based on equity, social harmony, mutual respect and human dignity. Its underlying principle in addressing racism and racial discrimination emphasizes positive race relations and the promotion of shared Canadian values of human rights and democratic institutions.
For further information:
Rubin Friedman, Spokesperson - (647) 403-8526