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Connecting Links: Race and Gender in the work of Edith Maude Eaton (Sui Sin Far)

by Tiffany Johnstone

“I give my right hand to the Occidentals and my left to the Orientals, hoping that between them they will not utterly destroy the insignificant connecting link.”

-Edith Maude Eaton, “Leaves from the Mental Portfolio of an Eurasian,” 230.

The history of women’s suffrage in North America is best understood within the context of historical debates about borders, nationality, race, and citizenship. Edith Eaton (1865-1914), also known by her frequent penname, Sui Sin Far, a journalist and fiction writer who wrote and lived in Canada and the United States at the turn of the 20th century, is a prime example of a writer who crossed geographical and political borders to explore the gender- and race-discrimination surrounding political definitions of citizenship.

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Social Departures: Sara Jeannette Duncan (1861-1922)

by Tiffany Johnstone

Sara Jeannette Duncan, of Scottish Presbyterian ancestry, is one of Canada’s most iconic turn of the 20th century literary figures. Her journalism and novels stand as literary companions to suffrage debates. Raised in Brantford Ontario and trained as a teacher, Duncan went on to write for Canadian and American publications such as the Globe (Toronto) and the Washington Post (D.C.). In 1887, she became the parliamentary correspondent for the Montreal Star. She wrote a column in the Globe addressed to female readers and shared progressive politics on issues relating to nationalism and suffrage. Duncan married a British civil servant working in India where she then lived and worked as a novelist and journalist for her adult life in the “Anglo-Indian community of Calcutta and Simla” (Dean 19). In her lifetime she published over 20 novels and she remains one of the most prolific and influential figures of Canadian literature.

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Grace Gallatin Seton-Thompson: Frontier Adventure Literature and the Dawn of Suffrage

by Tiffany Johnstone

At the turn of the 20th century the North American nature writing movement produced many famous male writers such as Jack London and Hamlin Garland. Wilderness adventure writing of the time is notable for its masculinist and imperialist themes relating to manifest destiny. One of these writers, Canadian Ernest Thompson Seton (who initially went by the name Ernest Seton Thompson), is best known for his influential roles in pioneering the animal story genre and co-founding the boy-scout movement. While writers such as Thompson Seton were social activists arguing for environmental conservation and Aboriginal rights, they also played into more mainstream interpretations of outdoors adventure as a metaphor for increased militarization, continental expansion, and off-shore imperialism (Atwood). Women and the topic of women’s rights often get left out of the discussion surrounding turn of the 20th century nature literature.

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Wendy Davis: Standing Tall Against the Anti-Choice Movement in Texas

by Kelsey Wrightson

Wendy Davis is an American lawyer and Democratic senator from Fort Worth, Texas. One of four children raised by a single mother, by 14, she was selling newspaper subscriptions and working part-time. She had the first of two daughters when she was 19 years old, subsequently working her way through Harvard Law School as a single mother.

Davis entered politics through the Fort Worth City Council in 1999, and served for nine years. In 2008 she was elected to the Texas Senate, District 10, narrowly defeating male Republican Kim Brimer. Upon entering a House dominated by Republicans and men, she began ruffling the feathers of conservative colleagues, labeling the Senate environment hostile to women and proposing multiple amendments to many bills. Davis serves as the Vice-Chair on the Senate Select Committee for Open Government, and is a member of the Committees on Economic Development, Transportation, Veteran Affairs and Military Installations.

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Daurene Lewis

by Kelsey Wrightson

Daurene Lewis scored important “firsts,” including the title of Canada’s first female Black mayor. Her favourite quotation was from Rosemary Brown, Canada’s first Black female member of a provincial legislature:  “Remember you are twice blessed … you’re Black and you’re a woman.” (McRae). Her lifetime resonated with protest against injustice.

Born in Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia in 1943, her family proudly claimed descent from Black Loyalists who settled in Canada after the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783). Upon graduation from high school, she trained as a nurse, worked in Toronto and Yarmouth, and taught at Dalhousie University.  Later she ran her own weaving and design business and earned a Master of Business Administration from Halifax’s St Mary’s University.

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Kathleen Wynne

by Kelsey Wrightson

When Kathleen Wynne was sworn in as Ontario’s 25th premier on 11 February 2013, the event marked notable “firsts” in Canadian politics. Wynne became the first female leader of the nation’s largest province and Canada’s first openly gay premier. In 2013 Ontario had only 28% female MLAs and Equal Voice reported that very few identified as members of the LGBTQ community. Wynne’s election nevertheless represented a significant shift in electoral politics towards increasingly diverse representation.

The multilingual Wynne (English, French, German, Dutch)(Wells) holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Queen’s University and a Master of Arts in Linguistics from the University of Toronto, as well as a Master of Education from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.

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Lillian Dyck

by Kelsey Wrightson

Lillian Dyck is a Canadian Senator from Saskatchewan, appointed by Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin in 2005. As one of the first Aboriginal women in Canada to pursue an academic career in the natural sciences, Dyck has been recognized as both a scholar and a leader for Aboriginal women. Reflecting the complexities of Canadian multiculturalism, she was both the first female Indigenous senator and the first Canadian-born senator of Chinese origin.

Dyck was born in North Battleford, Saskatchewan, to a China-born father, Yook Chun Quan, and a Saskatchewan-born Cree mother, Eva Muriel McNab, who was a member of the Gordon First Nation.

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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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Margaret Charlotte Fisher Mahood (1918-2013): Musings on a Feminist Foremother

by Linda Kealey

I was reading the obituary column in the Globe and Mail recently (17 May 2013) and noticed a fulsome account of the life of Dr. Margaret Mahood, a name I did not know, even though she had been involved in feminist and progressive causes most of her long life. Born at the end of World War I in Saskatchewan, just at the moment when most women obtained the vote in federal elections, she, like many other ambitious young women who needed to earn a living, became a teacher in small town Saskatchewan where she met and later married Ed Mahood. With two small children to care for and a supportive husband, she studied medicine at the University of Saskatchewan and McGill University, one of very few women in the graduating class of 1955.

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