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Vancouver Women's Health Collective

  • Instelling
  • 1971-

The Vancouver Women’s Health Collective began in 1971, when women who were angered with the health care provided by their doctors got together to do something about it. The founding women recognized that women’s health care needs were often ignored, underrepresented and trivialized within the medical system. Originally, the collective worked as a meeting place for women to discuss their experiences and frustrations with the health care system. In 1972, the VWHC was established as a non-profit charitable women’s organization.

What began as a small support system, turned into a “clinic” where women could see a doctor and receive health care in a supportive environment. Women also used the space as a place to share their ideas and advocate for changes in the health care system for all women. Furthermore, organizing as a collective, rather than a hierarchical structure, made all women participants in the organization’s decision making process.

During the 1980s, the “clinic” closed and the VWHC focused on providing information and resources for women. Over the years, the VWHC has been active in a variety of ways based on women’s needs, the political climate, our volunteer power and expertise and of course, funding challenges. VWHC members, volunteers and staff attended general practitioner conferences and the Provincial Women’s Health Lobby in the fall of 1992. We held press conferences to promote awareness on diethylstilbestrol (DES), a synthetic estrogen given by doctors to pregnant women between 1941 and 1975 to reduce the risk of miscarriage. DES was later found to have serious health effects. The VWHC also raised awareness about and was involved in actions against producers of the Dalkon Shield, an inter-uterine device promoted as a safe form of birth control. The Dalkon Shield was later found to seriously harm women who used it.

Over the years, the VWHC has produced publications on a variety of women’s health issues from a feminist perspective, some of which were translated into Mandarin and Spanish. The VWHC has also hosted workshops on numerous women’s health issues including breast health, DES, abortion, birth control, complementary therapies, mental health, natural fertility, menopause, pap tests, sexually transmitted diseases and unlearning racism. Past community-based organizing has included a 25th anniversary celebration, supporting women artists through art shows at the VWHC, and fundraising initiatives such as the sale of sunflowers on 4th Avenue in Vancouver. From 1998 to 2002, the VWHC ran the Community Health Advocate Project (CHA) that included the delivery of the Patient’s Rights workshop to women in the community.

While the initiatives undertaken by the Vancouver Women’s Health Collective have changed over the years, our aim has remained the same since 1971…empowering women to take control of their health through self-advocacy, information and knowledge, and activism.

Branching Out

  • Instelling
  • 1973-1980
Branching out was initially incorporated as New Women's Magazine Society in 1973. Published in Edmonton from 1973 to 1980, Branching Out was a high quality magazine produced by volunteers with a mandate to publish literature, art and feminist analysis by Canadian women. They sought to create a professional magazine and solicited contributions of prose, poetry, photography, book and film reviews, and news about women's groups across the country. This was in stark contrast to many women's magazines at the time that concentrated on traditional feminine subjects such as housekeeping and knitting patterns. The first issue appeared on shelves in December 1974. Sharon Batt and Susan McMaster were the founding and long term editors and the magazine was staffed by volunteers. Submissions were solicited and a nominal fee was paid. With the exception of hiring a printer, the staff handled all aspects of publication, from layout to distribution.

British Columbia Federation of Women

  • Instelling
  • 1974-1989
The British Columbia Federation of Women is an umbrella group for women's organizations in British Columbia. It was founded in 1974. Its goal was to organize province-wide action on women's issues, and it was particularly concerned with health, child care, education and employment. The Federation's objective was also to provide a network of support for women’s diverse struggles and “to overcome the physical and cultural isolation faced by all our sisters in this society ’’. Only women groups were affiliated with the federation. BCFW coordinators defined the organisation as “a linking together mechanism”. At the Annual General Convention delegates from each of the regions elected committee members and voted on policy resolutions. Vancouver Rape Relief was a member of the British Columbia Federation of Women and was one of the few remaining groups when the federation folded in 1989.

Upstream Collective

  • Instelling
  • 1976-1980

Upstream was an Ottawa-based feminist news magazine published by the Feminist Publications of Ottawa. In January 1976, after a notice was posted in the Ottawa Women’s Centre, a collective began forming around the idea of a feminist news publication. The first issue was published in October 1976 thanks to a $3000 grant from the Bronfman Foundation and several fundraising endeavours. It began as a bi-monthly publication but changed to monthly when finances became difficult to secure. The collective started as a 16 women team and grew to include freelancers, volunteers, and a number of employees. They also hired students and contract employees through government assistant programs.

The name was adopted in honour of Agnes Macphail, the first woman elected to the House of Commons, who compared her public life in 1922 to a pleasurable but difficult voyage upstream. The staff felt that this paralleled the struggles women experienced going against traditional, exploitative currents in Canadian society. Published from 1976 to 1980, the collective wanted to keep women in Ottawa, and eventually Canada, informed of news and women’s issues from a feminist point of view. It was also a vehicle for encouraging dialogue between their readers.

Conceived of as a completely volunteer publication, Upstream began as a 20 page tabloid with 75% of space devoted to news and 25% to advertising. Each issue would include local news from a woman’s viewpoint as well as arts, sports, editorials, letters, opposition editorials, columns, national, and international news. Staffed by individuals with diverse backgrounds, they wanted to bring a variety of articles to their readers. This organization functioned with a non-hierarchical structure, which eventually caused issues within the group. Upstream was sustained through subscriptions and donations with a goal of generating advertising revenue in the future.

After fourteen months, Upstream developed some internal disharmony especially with regards to the political direction of the paper. Although they wanted a collective with diversity they required a more unified business plan. There are several letters and reports of issues with distribution including missing issues for several months, which is indicative of a lack of clearly defined roles and responsibilities within the collective. The disorganization eventually led to several members resigning over creative differences. Although they had steady circulation and revenue from a typesetting business, the paper experienced severe financial difficulties in early 1980. The collective went through a restructuring phase that was meant to create a unified policy that would help with the content, structure, and the political aim of the news magazine. Unfortunately, the reconstruction only identified bigger issues. In July 1980, the final issue of Upstream was published including personal messages on Upstream’s challenges and goodbyes. There was a wave of support both written and financial after the end of publication.

Feminist Publications of Ottawa hoped to expand into other forms of publication including graphic design. In 1978, members of the original collective also received a Secretary of State Grant to create a poster series on Women in History. This series included posters about women in sports, working in non-traditional careers, and a focus on the People’s case. There is no clear evidence that the full series was ever completed.

Women Plan Toronto

  • Instelling
  • 1985-2004

In 1982, a ground-breaking conference about gender perspective on urban issues was organized in Toronto by Women In/And Planning (WIAP). It sought to examine the underlying disconnections between urban planning practices and women’s needs.

In 1985, the creation of Women Plan Toronto (WPT) was inspired by an article in Women Environment about Women Plan London (WPL) in the UK. Reggie Modlich was a founding member of WPT and its main coordinator. It was supported by a grant from the federal government via the Status of Women agency as well as by WIAP.
Reggie Modlich defined WPT as ‘a grassroots women’s organization that uses participatory methods to involve diverse women in changing urban planning processes and outcomes in Toronto. Its purpose is to raise awareness and advocate alternatives for addressing women’s planning concerns’.

WPT was composed of a voluntary committee called ‘circles’ in order to avoid the traditional male hierarchical structure of organization. All members who attended a meeting could be part of the decision-making process. Thus, WPT started to exploring gender issues in urban planning by holding informal discussions. Women from various social backgrounds were invited to talk about their experiences and ideas relating to Toronto’s urban environment. The groups explored issues related to child care, public transit, personal safety, municipal governance and elections, housing, and urban planning.

Barbara Loevinger Rahder explains that ‘the structure of the organization, fluctuated with its memberships, depending on who is involved what their interests are, and what issues are on the public agenda (or put on the public agenda by WPT). There [was] one part-time staff member, and a core of about seven or eight volunteers who [were] usually very active in the circles and on various projects. Another fifty women or so [were] less active members, and up to another 3000 individuals and organizations [were] part of a broader network which [was] kept informed and sometimes mobilized around important issues and events’.

From 1985 to 1998, WPT took up various issues and started executing various projects. In this way, during the 1980s and 1990s, WPT had a direct impact on urban planning in Toronto: ‘For more than a decade, the organization has worked to focus attention on women’s needs in the city, to critique the inequities of mainstream planning, and to develop alternative visions of what planning and urban life would be like if women diverse needs were taken into account’.

In 2004, Toronto Women’s City Alliance (TWCA) succeeded WPT.

Canadian Women’s Studies Association (CWSA)

  • Instelling
  • 1982-

The Canadian Women’s Studies Association (CWSA) was founded in 1982 at the Learned Societies’ Conference in Ottawa. As a bilingual association of Women’s Studies practitioners across Canada, the CWSA’s mandate is to provide a professional network for Women’s Studies specialists and to promote and foster women’s studies as an academic discipline. The CWSA was a member of the Canadian Humanities Federation, the Social Science Federation of Canada and later, when these two organizations merged, the Humanities and Social Sciences Federation of Canada (HSSFC). In conjunction with the HSSFC, they sponsor an annual conference. The CWSA has published a biannual newsletter since 1982.

In 1992, the CWSA issued its first conference programme entitled Weaving alliances: selected papers presented for the Canadian Women’s Studies Association at the 1991 and 1992 Learned Societies Conferences. The CWSA took over the publication of Atlantis, originally a women’s studies journal issued by Mount Saint Vincent University in 1994 when its publication was suspended due to internal disputes.
In 1993, in response to gender equity issues uncovered at the University of Victoria Political Science Department and on other Canadian campuses, the CWSA launched the Chilly Climate Committee to investigate the issue and propose remedies. In 1998, the CWSA website was launched and a cyber-committee was created in order to keep the association apprised of issues concerning women and new communications technology.

Since 2002, Atlantis, under the aegis of the CWSA, has sponsored an annual prize for a monograph in either French or English published during the previous year. The Book Prize was renamed in 2011 to the Outstanding Scholarship Prize. In 2004, the CWSA introduced both the Undergraduate and Graduate Essay Prizes. The essays are anonymously judged by a committee of 3-5 members.

The CWSA continues to promote Women’s Studies as an academic discipline and it continues to sponsor conferences and publish periodicals on the subject.

Lesbian Organization of Toronto (LOOT)

  • Instelling
  • 1976-1980
The Lesbian Organization of Toronto (LOOT) was founded in 1976 and was Toronto's first openly lesbian feminist group. L.O.O.T. grew out of an October 1976 meeting convened in the C.H.A.T. (Community Homophile Association of Toronto) offices on Church Street. Fiona Rattray, an original member, estimates the meeting was attended by 30-60 lesbians. Members present at this meeting decided to rent part of a house (342 Jarvis St), to develop a multi-use lesbian centre. The collective also included Eve Zaremba, who would later become one of Canada's first notable openly lesbian writers, and Lynne Fernie, a noted documentary filmmaker. The Lesbian Organization of Toronto shared the building with two other compatible organizations; The Other Woman, one of Toronto's longest lasting feminist newsmagazines, and the Three of Cups Women's Coffeehouse. L.O.O.T. moved into the house on February 1, 1977. The organization regularly provided peer support, telephone counselling, dances, social & political activities, a lending library, a newsletter, potluck socials, brunches, concerts and performances by well-known feminist and lesbian musicians like Ferron, Alix Dobkin, Mama Quilla II, and Beverley Glenn Copeland. In 1979, L.O.O.T. members, in collaboration with the International Women's Day Committee, organized that year's Bi-National Lesbian Conference on the University of Toronto campus.

International Network of Women Engineers and Scientists (INWES)

  • Instelling
  • 1964-
INWES is the International Network for Women Engineers and Scientists. It is a global non-profit organization that serves to strengthen the capacity of individuals and organizations related to women in STEM worldwide through the exchange of information, networking, and advocacy activities to increase the presence of women in STEM worldwide and to be a responsible voice and influence on scientific issues for the benefit of society and the environment. The International Conference for Women Engineers and Scientists (ICWES) had been taking place for twelve years before delegates decided to create a network of organizations that represent women in STEM fields in 2001. In 2003, INWES was declared a non-profit corporation under Canadian law. INWES continues to exist as an organization and it sponsors workshops, conferences, and research, publishes a newsletter, and hosts regional meetings throughout the world.

Canadian Congress for Learning Opportunities for Women

  • Instelling
  • 1979-2001
The Canadian Congress for Learning Opportunities for Women (CCLOW) is a national organization which was formed in 1971 to promote learning opportunities for women. It facilitated networking, identified barriers, publicized critical issues, organized conferences, and publishesda periodical, Women’s Education des femmes. CCLOW was originally called the Canadian Committee on Learning Opportunities for Women. The Quebec regional chapter was formed in circa 1979 and CCLOW disbanded in 2001.

Women of Impact

  • Instelling
  • 2014-2015
This project led by Mary Wells and Anne Millar, aimed to recognize and document the experiences and accomplishments of leading women in mining, metallurgy, and materials in Canada and throughout the world. Furthermore, it was designed to disseminate their inspiring stories through a one-day Women of Impact symposium as part of the 2015 Conference of Metallurgists (COM) and through a peer-reviewed publication, which was provided to key networks of women in science and engineering across Canada. The interviews took place during 2014-2015.
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