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Youth and Hope

by Veronica Strong-Boag

It’s almost a truism to suggest that today’s youth disappoint.  Indeed elders in every age are notorious for complaints. In fact, youngsters have commonly at least equal reason to protest the world handed down to them. But that is another story. The argument here considers contemporary concern about youth apathy as a key component of the democratic deficit and then turns to evidence of a generation who give their elders plenty of reason for hope.

‘Habitual non-voting’, what Canadian political scientist Paul Howe describes in Citizens Adrift, has been strongly correlated with youth. Since the 2000 federal election when turnout slipped to about 60% (the decline had been especially noticeable since 1988), Canadians have been urged to confront special disaffection among those in their twenties and younger.

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From the Margins to the Centre: Women in the New Brunswick Federation of Labour

by David Frank

What did unions ever do for women? I remember this question from a class several years ago. It was asked by a young woman who was a first-rate student and also had a good deal of experience in the workplace. When I mentioned that half the union members in our province these days are women, she was surprised.

Of course, that was not always the case. Far from it, and in writing a history of the provincial federation of labour in New Brunswick, I tried to keep the student’s question in mind. Would my student see unions paying attention to the needs of women? Would she see women joining unions?

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Ministry v Council: Alternative “Solutions” to Gender Inequality

by Kelsey Wrightson

In the ramp up to the 14 May 2013 BC election, both the NDP and the BC Liberal Party offered policy proposals addressing gender inequality in the province. When the Liberals, headed by Christy Clark, achieved a poll-defying majority government,  the “business as usual” result disappointed many critics of the Party’s longstanding policies of indifference and exacerbation of gender inequality. In 2012, West Coast LEAF’s CEDAW (Convention on Ending Discrimination Against Women) Report Card had issued several failing grades to the BC Liberal Party, and Teghtsoonian and Chapell argue that since 2001 the “Liberal government has pursued a wider set of policy changes which are antithetical to the well-being of diverse groups of women” (38).

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Women Justices and the Supreme Court of Canada

by Grace Lore

Canada’s democratic system is comprised of three branches of government – the executive, the legislature, and the judiciary.  As Greene (2006) argues in his Courts, the relationship between the Courts and democracy is somewhat paradoxical: judges are unelected and often intervene in the policy making of democratically elected politicians, yet democracy requires an independent judiciary where judges can offer independent and impartial application and interpretation of the laws.   In the context of this paradox, however, one thing is clear – as in the legislatures and executives across the country, women have been and continue to be under-represented on the Supreme Court of Canada and recent trends in federal court appointments in general challenge judicial commitments to equality.

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New Women Writer-Protagonists: Comparing Louisa May Alcott’s Jo and Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne

by Tiffany Johnstone

It is no coincidence that Canadian Lucy Maud Montgomery’s (1874–1942) Anne of Green Gables (1908) resembles American Louisa May Alcott’s (1832-1888) earlier two-part text Little Women (1868-1869), published as one book in 1880.  Both coming-of-age narratives engage in debates about gender prevalent in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  Both feature independent female protagonists who must negotiate traditional gender roles and increased opportunities for their sex.  While Little Women and its two sequels (published in 1871 and 1886) follow all of the female members of the March family, they focus on Josephine (“Jo”) March who struggles the most to free herself from gender expectations.

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Sister Suffragists: Lillian Beynon Thomas (1874-1961) and Francis Marion Beynon (1884-1951)

by Tiffany Johnstone

“[T]he women of Manitoba are now citizens, persons, human beings, who have stepped politically out of the class of criminals, children, idiots and lunatics.”

-Lillian Beynon Thomas Qtd. in Gutkin and Gutkin.

Sisters Lillian Beynon Thomas and Francis Marion Beynon were teachers, writers, and outspoken activists involved in the historic women’s movement in Manitoba. They were raised along with one other sister and four brothers, by James Barnes Beynon and Rebecca Manning Beynon, devout Ontario Methodists. In 1889, the farm family joined the Ontario land rush to Manitoba and settled in Hartney. Both parents were active in Methodist organizations and Rebecca was particularly involved in the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (http://womensuffrage.org /?p=21211).

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Still Reason to March: the Valentine’s Day Women’s Memorial March

by Kelsey Wrightson

The Women’s Memorial March Committee (WMMC) is a grassroots organization working in Coast Salish Territory (Vancouver, BC). Each year on Valentine’s Day, family members and their allies memorialize over 3000 missing and murdered women across Canada. February 14th, 2013 marks the 21st year of the annual demonstration that honours victims, directs national and international attention to this tragedy, and builds alliances with other groups calling for justice and substantive social change.

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Religion in New Feminist Protest: the Case of Pussy Riot

by Veronica Strong-Boag

Religion is complicated territory for women. Theological beliefs of every kind routinely distinguish them from men, rarely to their emotional, physical, economic, or spiritual advantage. And yet that is never the only story. Humanity’s diverse stories of its relations with the divine sometimes promise consolation, identity, and even power to their devotees. The meaning of religion’s promise for women and girls, whether in Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, or Christianity, to name only the more prominent faiths, was much debated by 19th century feminists (see Stanton for example) and controversy continues into the 21st century (see Dayes and Tohidi).

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Glamour, Soft Power and International Image: China’s New First Lady, Peng Liyuan

by Huai Bao

When Peng Liyuan stepped out of the Air China airplane in Moscow beside her husband, Xi Jinping, the new President of China, in March 2013, she became the most talked about woman among Chinese netizens in Mainland China and overseas. Her hairstyle, light make-up, earrings, scarf, overcoat, and handbag all raised a media whirlwind in China.

Peng, one of her country’s most famous soprano singers, has apparently distinguished herself from previous First Ladies of the PRC. But in one unwritten rule she has been following her predecessors—while shining brighter next to her husband in the public eye, she has retreated from her musical career since he became a member of the Politburo Standing Committee.

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