Herstory Month in Canada - celebrating women's achievements | National Union of Public and General Employees

Herstory Month in Canada - celebrating women's achievements

"This year's theme is Aboriginal Women, The Journey Forward."

Ottawa (1 Oct. 2006) – Since 1992, October has been recognized as Herstory Month in Canada – a time to celebrate the incredible achievements of women. Canadian women have shaped and continue to shape our country – with their strength, wisdom and courage.

From the Famous Five's involvement in the Persons Case (recognition of women as persons) to today's female leaders, women continue to raise our social conscience, give voice to issues of inequality and work to build a future free of discrimination, violence and poverty.

Status of Women Canada - Poster PDF

Canadian Sisterhood

This year the Status of Women Canada is celebrating the contributions that Aboriginal women have made to the fabric of our country and to the shaping of our future. The theme is Aboriginal Women: the Journey Forward.

First Nations, Inuit and Metis women have made significant contributions to Canada and to the women's movement. These women have done so despite the obstacles they faced due to discrimination, poverty and violence. Their achievements are often not noticed and seldom reflected in our history books. Listed below are just a few of these women of aspiration:

  • Jean Cuthand Goodwill (1928-1997), a member of the Cree First Nation, championed public health services for Aboriginal people and helped to establish the Aboriginal Nurses Association of Canada.
  • Bertha Allen (born 1932) is a member of the Gwich'in First Nation, a lifelong advocate for Aboriginal and Inuit women's political rights, and a recipient of the Governor General's Award in Commemoration of the Persons Case.
  • Nellie J. Cournoyea (born 1940), an Inupiak woman, was elected to the Northwest Territories Legislature in 1979, becoming the first Aboriginal woman government leader.
  • Ethel Blondin-Andrew (born 1951) is a treaty Dene and the first Aboriginal woman to serve as a Member of Parliament and member of the Federal Cabinet.
  • Jeannette Vivian Corbiere Lavell (born 1942), an Ojibway activist, launched a challenge in 1971 to the Indian Act. The success of that challenge permitted reinstatement of the First Nations women and children who had lost their status.
  • Sheila Watt-Cloutier (born 1953) is an Inuk, the first female President of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference and an international activist on climate change.

International Sisterhood

Around the world, women continue to shape their country, their communities and their unions. They create history with their victories and a strong legacy for young women throughout the world. An excellent example of such a woman is Malalai Joya who recently visited Canada on a speaking tour co-sponsored by the National Union.

Joya, at age 27, is the youngest member of Afghanistan's parliament and despite death threats, courageously stands up to the warlords who now hold some of the highest positions of power in the Afghan government. She is a fearless voice for Afghan women's rights and is the head of the Organization of Promoting Afghan Women's Capabilities.

The National Union and its Advisory Committee on Women's Issues believe that these women's stories are the framework to build a united sisterhood. At the 2004 NUPGE Convention, delegates unanimously carried a National Executive resolution calling on the National Union to host a conference in 2006 on Building Sisterhood Around the World.

The resolution stated: "It is important Canadian women have contact with women from other countries to learn from their experiences and challenges as well as to build global solidarity and international sisterhood."

The Conference is being held October 1-3, 2006 in Ottawa. Speakers from Africa, the Philippines, Colombia and Canada's First Nations will share their stories. Workshops will be held to enable participants to develop action plans to continue to build sisterhood around the world.

National Union national president James Clancy states: "By bringing women from around the world to share their histories, we can learn from their victories and be strengthened by their courage as they continue to fight for women's issues. As a union, as a country and as a world we need to build a future that truly epitomizes the word 'equality'." NUPGE

More information:
Women's issues and the National Union
The power to build international sisterhood is in your hands
Sisterhood and strength!
Women's History Month Website
Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women
Native Women’s Association of Canada

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