Kelly McIntosh discusses “Ladies of the CNR” at CFUW-Stratford AGM

Kelly McIntosh, who performs and helped create the play, “Ladies of the CNR” said she first got the idea for the production after seeing a picture of these women in Dean Robinson’s book Railway Stratford Revisited.

“When I came across this picture, I saw it and I thought there was a story there that could be an amazing play about women and what it was like during that time,” she said. “And this image and the feelings that I got from looking at the faces of some of these women made me want to learn more.”

The general impact of the war in the lives of these women, and in communities such as Stratford, is a theme in the play.

 

Kelly McIntosh, who performs and helped create “Ladies of the CNR”, said she first got the idea for the production after seeing a picture of these women

Never a Dull Moment : 150 Years of Federal-Provincial Relations in Canada

Dr. Anna L. Esselment, Chair, Department of Political Science, University of Waterloo was the guest speaker at the April General Meeting of CFUW-Stratford.

Dr Esselment is interested in inter-governmental relations. She started by mentioning her connection to CFUW: in 1941 her grandmother graduated from McDonald College of Household Science, (now the University of Guelph And joined CFUW. In 1976, her mother graduated with a B.A. in English from York, then joined CUSO and spent two years in Ghana. She confirmed that CFUW has served women well as evidenced by the fact that currently, women outnumber men on campuses across Canada. The question now is WHEN you go to University, what will you study?

Dr Esselment wished to address the steps leading to Confederation in the evenings talk. Her theses centred on Federalism and the impact of language, with the focus on the English-French dichotomy. She stated that everyone has a political awakening – the moment that something that piques interest in politics. Our parents remember the shooting of JFK. Our children will remember 911. Dr Esselment’s awakening was the 1995 referendum on the Quebec during her 1st year studies.

Is Federalism working? Federalism has kept Canada together for last 150 years. The word ‘Federal’ is derived from Faith. Federalism defines a national level and a provincial level that share rule where each makes laws for the citizenry. Distinctions are made such as criminal offences are federal, but alcohol consumption is provincial.

Federalism occurs when parties want unity but not union. Protection, local decision, innovation (healthcare across country). Why was federalism chosen for Canada? By the time of the Charlottetown conferences, the French had fought to retain their language, religion, and culture. The Government had to recognize this duality. In 1763, a Royal Proclamation represented the first attempt to absorb the French. The former territory of New France did not have representation under this proclamation, but would be governed by the British, who elected Protestant school trustees and church representatives. In 1774, the Quebec Act lacked the denial of French rights and granted religious freedom. Catholics could now hold office and the use of French civil law was permitted. The strategy was to contain the foment of disturbance experienced in the 13 colonies. The effect was practical, and instituted cultural cohabitation.

In 1791, upper and lower Canada were divided to ensure that the French would be grateful to the British and their freedom was guaranteed. There was a minority of French in Upper Canada and a minority of English in Lower Canada. This Act contains the first mention of language rights. Canadians could choose to use the language they wanted to swear oaths. The challenge was the tension between the governors and elected people, which led to the 1837 rebellions. In 1840 Lord Durham sent to study the situation and to propose a resolution. The first recommendation was to unite upper and lower Canada with equal representation (there were more French, so it was unfair). This didn’t address the differences between groups. Language was given equal status, but the groups could not communicate.

True representation by population was difficult because Canada West now more populous. Each had vulnerable minorities within each group, so in 1864, an agreement was hammered out to form the Dominion of Canada in 1867. There was a desire for union but not unity. The Provinces had jurisdiction over education, health, and law. The Federal government built railroads, letting Canadians feel that they belonged to a larger community. For Quebec, federalism meant a way out and a chance to be a partner in a new system. Thus there were two founding nations, where no major change could occur without agreement between funding nations. However, there was no way to amend our constitution without petitioning the British Parliament. Compact theory was rejected in 1982. Quebec was one step closer to independence. However, the drive for independence was resolved peacefully without war and included the 1995 unity rally in Montreal, held to remind Quebec that they are part of a larger whole. Federalism is not perfect, but we enjoy peaceful resolution.

We can look forward to another 150 years of federalism

All Candidates Meeting to Discuss Women’s Issues

Of the eight registered candidates in the riding, only Liberal candidate Brendan Knight, NDP candidate Michael O’Brien and Green Party candidate Lisa Olsen attended the Candidates Debate organized by the Zonta Club of Stratford and CFUW Stratford.                                                                                                    Absent were Conservative incumbent Randy Pettapiece , Libertarian Scott Marshall, Paul McKendrick of the Consensus Ontario party, Rob Smeenk of the Freedom Party of Ontario and Andrew Stanton of the Alliance party.  Charlene Gordon moderated the debate.

Equal Pay Day Social Media Campaign

Can you believe that some people have to work over 15 months to earn what their colleagues make in one year? CFUW Stratford is publicizing the income gap between women and men, leading up to April 10th: Equal Pay Day. 

Members of CFUW-Stratford Wear Red For Equal Pay Day

In 2018, it seems inconceivable that women are still paid less than men, across all sectors. To raise awareness and incite action, CFUW Stratford  will be posting “info-bytes” regularly to our Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/CFUWStratford) and to our Twitter account (@CFUWStratford).
It is an opportunity to learn the facts — the better to speak and to act to correct this huge inequity. There will be information about the gaps and suggestions for ways to combat them. And on April 10th, 2018, the day that women’s earnings reach the income their male co-workers made in 2017, we encourage everyone to wear red, to support the battle for equal pay, regardless of gender or race.

Stratford’s Save the City Hall League Topic of February General Meeting

Betty Jo Belton: Betty Jo’s presentation was entitled “Stratford’s Save the City Hall League”. In her initial slide, she showed a clipping from the Stratford Beacon Herald commemorating the designation of Stratford City Hall as a National Historical Site in 1983. The battle to save City Hall began in 1971, when successive Councils demonstrated support to raze the Hall to make way for a hotel complex or alternate commercial development. A group of citizens who valued the building formed a committee to examine other options. Originally, this committee was composed of women only; Jo Ann Hayes, Evelyn Broadfoot, Mary Brothers, Ellen Stafford, Winifred Kneital, and Dolores Whiteman.

Archivist Betty-Jo Belton

The original City Hall was victim to a fire in 1898. The present City Hall was then commissioned and cost $35,000 to build and was expressly designed to fit the triangular plot where it now site. It housed a library, reading rooms, an auditorium, and council chambers. The City Hall was the site of the 1906 reunion, the return from war of the 1946 Perth Regiment, and the Centennial celebrations.

However, by the1960s, it was looking down at the heels, so City Council invited architects to investigate the costs of repairs. It was determined that the building sound but the mechanical components were out-dated and in poor shape. Mention was made of the low percentage of office space to building size. Tenders of $500,000 were entered to effect updates, which was thought to be exorbitant for an old building and a committee was struck to look for a new site.

On Nov 25th 1964, the Beacon Herald ran the story and in an editorial said that there were two sides to the story. Letters to the Editor poured in, with the vast majority writing in favour of keeping City Hall. Nevertheless, in1967, Mayor CH Meier showed plans for a 10-storey hotel in place of city hall, with plans to start the work in 1968. Incoming Mayor John Hiller wanted to stay neutral and asked the public for ideas for city hall, but no action was taken. By 1969, there were serious concerns about the need to replace the plumbing and obsolete heating. With cracks inside and out, it was estimated that there were no more than 25 years left in building.

The Save the City Hall League collected 2000 signatures to ask for a plebiscite on the building. They stated that they had support to keep the building and that Council was not acting in accordance with the wishes of the electorate. Councillor David Bradshaw was tasked with getting a committee together to study the issue and to make recommendations

In April 1970, the original 1964 report resurfaced to avoid more costly studies. A June meeting was set to settle the matter. With Bradshaw in favour of saving the hall, the committee was encouraged to write 10-12 briefs to support saving the hall. The Beacon Herald encouraged all interested parties to attend the public meeting on May 23 1970. Of the 81 submissions made, 64 were in favour of saving the hall.

However, a new developer was in the works sniffing about the hall and the Council voted 6-5 in favour of demolition. In response, the League requested legal advice. Robert Mountain represented the City at that time. In April 1971, a public meeting was held to address urban planning since the hall was coming down. A drop-in centre was established by the League so that people could sign for support. Letters written to public figures to garner support, were favourably answered, most notably by Farley Mowatt.

The August 1971 Council Meeting to hear a proposal by developer David Owen had the item removed from agenda. Council voted 7-3 to table the City Hall issue. By Sept 9th David Owen was no longer interested and the Mayor blamed this on the editorial in the Beacon Herald, and announced it at Rotary meeting on the same day. He criticized the behavior of League supporters. On Sept 10th, the committee was tasked with coming up with an alternative, but no plans were approved. In Nov 1971, a joint committee of councillors and merchants were asked to make a plan. They hired a local architect to repair and update the Hall. In July 1972, a $2.5 million proposal for a commercial undertaking with parking on site was proposed but abandoned in Aug 1972.

On June 1, 1974 a re-dedication service was held and the Hall was restored by Christmas 1974. In June, 1982, it was designated as a heritage structure and then a National Heritage site.

Cambria thanked Betty-Jo Belton for her entertaining and informative presentation.

January General Meeting : Canada 150+, The Indigenous Experience

We acknowledge that are meeting on land that was the traditional territory of ‎ the Neutral (Attawandaron), Anishnawbe, and Haudenosaunee peoples. This territory was the subject of the Dish with One Spoon Wampum Belt Covenant, an agreement between these nations to peaceably share and care for the resources around the Great Lakes.

Pat Reavy welcomed Lori Campbell, a Metis-Cree-Scottish woman by presenting her with a tobacco tie. Lori was a child of the 60’s scoop and has spent her adult life reconnecting with her heritage while obtaining two Bachelor’s degrees (in Indigenous Studies and Psychology), a Master’s degree from the University of Regina. She is currently working on a PhD in Social Justice Education.

Lori Campbell

Guest Speaker Lori Campbell and CFUW-Stratford Program Chair Pat Reavy

Lori began, speaking in her native Cree, before translating into English her thanks for the tobacco tie, which she accepted in recognition of the positive thoughts and intentions attached to the gift. She explained that after accepting a tobacco tie, she would later burn the tie in a sacred fire so that these good thoughts and sentiments might rise to the Creator. She also appreciated the land acknowledgement that opened the meeting this evening. She emphasized that it was significant as it indicates acceptance and respect of Indigenous peoples.

Lori is part of Treaty 6 Northern Saskatchewan, but as part of the 60’s scoop, was taken from her family and community and adopted. She did not know her natural family until adulthood. She is the eldest of eight, all of whom were fostered or adopted. Her siblings did not know their stories either. They were among the 20,000 taken between 1951 and 1991.  These children’s rights to their culture were stolen.

All Canadian’s should be concerned about the relationship between government and Indigenous peoples. Even the actions of government-sponsored efforts at reconciliation are troubling . For example, the Truth and Reconciliation Council currently travelling across Canada will only listen to a person’s personal experience, not what that person may have observed happening to others, or to those children that died. In addition, the teachers and clergy involved in the residential school system are not telling their part of the story, so the process is woefully incomplete. Also, this commission does not address land issues at all. In the space of 150 years Indigenous peoples regressed from thriving to barely surviving. The water is contaminated – 150 indigenous communities lack drinking water, the land is depleted. More native children are in the care of the child welfare system now than in the 1960s-1970s.

Lori’s grandmother attended residential school, and her mother lost all her children to adoption.  Lori noted that the newest generation of indigenous children is over-represented in Canada’s child welfare system. There is a significant inter-generational gap in knowing how to parent and how to be a family.  Despite the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal issuance of three orders to address the recognized discrimination against native children, nothing has changed.  The funding formula for school is fundamentally flawed, with indigenous children (education funded Federally) receiving thousands of dollars less per year than their non-indigenous counterparts (education funded Provincially).

The Inquiry into the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women cites time constraints as the main cause of the firing or resignation of twelve Board members. However there are other concerns. The inquiry does not address the root causes of violence against indigenous women and fails to address the role of the RCMP. The approach is one of pathologizing: assuming that indigenous peoples cannot care for themselves. Again, there must be accountability and perpetrators must be held responsible.  Lori noted that both non-indigenous and indigenous women are most likely to be harmed by non-indigenous assailants.

We need to disrupt the national narrative by introducing children to indigenous culture and books, films and stories, to be proactive in promoting a truer view of Canada.

Reconciliation is an interesting concept, defined as the restoration of friendly relations and/or of making disparate beliefs compatible. Reconciliation requires that we understand our history to understand our present situation, but we are misinformed by our history books. The children in residential schools were taught that native peoples were dirty and heathen, inferior to white people. Non-Indigenous children were largely taught the same ideas. The residential schools were propagandized in 1950’s television commercials. Furthermore, When the Chief Medical Officer of Canada, Dr. Bryce reported on the misuse and abuse occurring in residential schools, he was fired.

Other countries that have held similar reconciliation processes have also not had completely successful outcomes. Part of the problem might be that there is no one held to account in the process. This has led to a call to action to explore ways that government might be held responsible. It is important for citizens to read the summaries and to discuss them widely. How do we reconcile?

In 1996, a $60 million report entitled the “Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples” was released, but  little was done to follow up on its findings and recommendations. Ironically, education got us into this situation and education has the best chance of getting us out.  For example, the story of Sir John A. MacDonald is not complete- it needs to be fleshed out to make him less hero, more human. The Jewish Holocaust is taught in schools,  so the eradication of indigenous peoples and the history of residential schools will also become part of the school curriculum.

What can citizens do?

  • Be an Ally. The CBC has a link to indigenous authors that will enlighten and inform.
  • Speak and share with like-minded people
  • Believe when Indigenous peoples tell their stories
  • Look at representation in Boardrooms, Council Chambers and Senates
  • Imagine Canada in 20 years- what will our children and grandchildren think of our actions
  • Create a new and representative nation

Here is a link to 150 acts of reconciliation in the last 150 days of Canada’s 150th year.

150 Acts of Reconciliation

Jane Cook thanked Lori for her thought-provoking and fascinating presentation and invited further discussion during the break.