February Document of the Month

Posted on Thursday, February 1, 2018

Blog Post

The Archives and Special Collections present:

Document of the Month

February, Black History Month

Our Lives Volume2 No1

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February is Black History Month, which provides an opportunity for the Archives and Special Collections to highlight black women’s involvement in the second wave of the women’s movement in Canada. To mark this occasion, the Archives and Special Collections has selected issues of Our Lives: Canada's first Black Women's newspaper from its collection of feminist periodicals. The purpose of this newspaper was to provide a forum for black women to discuss issues they encountered in their daily lives, to share their experiences, and to express their demands. The first edition was published in March 1986.

This newspaper provides an opportunity to feature its author, the Black Women's Collective (BWC). The BWC was active in Toronto between 1986 and 1989 and denounced both sexism and racism, as well as being active in several other feminist organizations. The group was involved in the creation of the Women's Coalition against Racism and Police Violence to condemn the police shootings of Sophia Cook (October 27, 1989), Lester Donaldson (August 9, 1988), and Michael Wade Lawson (December 8, 1988). The group campaigned to highlight the specific issues affecting black women. Its members struggled for black women’s equality recognition in Canadian society, but also within the women's movement itself (see Our Lives, Volume 1, Number 1, March 1986 - Statement to the International Day Coalition). The group proposed a dialogue to change the feminist activism of the 1980s, largely represented by the white middle class women, towards greater openness and understanding of minority groups’ issues. In collaboration with the Coalition of Visible Minority Women, and the Toronto Branch of the Congress of Black Women, the group became involved in the organization of the 1989 International Women’s Day, and proposed the theme of poverty as the main theme for this day.

Black women’s groups and their impact on the Women’s Movement are not well represented in our collection. In order to have a better understanding of their involvement in the Canadian women's movement, we are seeking your help to enrich our archives in order to highlight their activism and their struggle, to explore their history and impact on Canadian society from the 1970s to the 1990s. arcs@uottawa.ca

Enjoy the discovery!

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