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Vancouver Women's Health Collective

  • Pessoa coletiva
  • 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.

Fairholm, Linda Jean

  • Pessoa singular
  • 18 May 1948-6 September 2018
Jean Fairholm was a as coordinator of World Interaction in which she worked to expand Canadian awareness of the potential for global justice. Her insight in this role was informed by her experience as a CUSO volunteer in Malawi. Her second calling as a massage therapist continued her lifelong focus on healing. Jean travelled extensively, to Hawaii, Scotland, Crete, New Zealand, Tibet and Manitoulin Island. She died in Ottawa on September 6, 2018.

World Inter-Action Mondiale

  • Pessoa coletiva
  • 1972-
Founded in 1972 as the Ottawa-Hull Learner Centre, in the mid-1980s changed its name to World Inter-Action Mondiale (WIAM), and in 2011 changed its name again to One World Arts. WIAM was an Ottawa-based global education organization that believed that the solutions to social and economic global inequalities begin with awareness among Canadians of their social, environmental and cultural links with the rest of the world.

Clennet-Sirois, Laurence

  • Pessoa singular
Laurence Clennett-Sirois is a sociologist and independent scholar focusing on gender and women's studies. She was awarded her Bachelor of Social Sciences from Université du Québec en Outaouais in 2005, her Masters in Sociology and Women's studies from University of Ottawa in 2008, and her PhD in Gender Studies from the University of Sussex in 2013. She worked as a part-time lecturer at Université du Québec en Outaouais from 2012-2018. In 2018, Clennett-Sirois is currently working as a policy analyst for Status of Women Canada.

Lesbian Mothers' Defence Fund

  • Pessoa coletiva
  • 1978-1987

In 1978, members from Wages Due Lesbians created a new organization called Lesbian Mothers’ Defence Fund (LMDF). Modelled on the Seattle organization Lesbian Mothers’ National Defense Fund, this new group was formed in Toronto in 1978 and was primarily concerned with helping lesbian mothers in child custody cases. As such, it collected a large amount of documents on trials held in Canada and the United States, which it distributed to lesbian mothers or/and their lawyers. It also provided some financial assistance and emotional support to lesbian mothers.

To reach as many women as possible it also began to publish a newsletter, Grapevine: the newsletter of the Lesbian Mothers' Defence Fund. Not only did it inform women but the money helped to support the running of the organization. The Lesbian Mothers’ Defence Fund also raised money by holding dances and accepting donations. However, the revenues were slim and they had to rely heavily on grants given by several companies. By 1987 the organization ceased operations.

Lesbian Organization of Toronto (LOOT)

  • Pessoa coletiva
  • 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.

Wood, Myrna

  • Pessoa singular
  • 1936-
Myrna Wood is an American Second wave feminist. She was born in Grundy County, Iowa, USA, the youngest child of family of 8. Her parents were Rolly and Fern Crouse Aiken. In 1966-1967 she was a member of a group of women in Toronto who started consciousness-raising meetings. She was one of the four authors of "Sisters, Brothers, Lovers... listen" for the final conference of SUPA (Student Union for Peace Action on Labor Day weekend 1967 in Goderich. During the next 2-3 years she lived and worked with Toronto Women's Liberation in Montreal, with the radical student movement at McGill and the other Women's Liberation groups. In New York City she helped to organize a city-wide Women's Liberation group (including women from Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), Leviathan collective, etc.). In New York, during 1969, she co-wrote "Bread and Roses" with Kathy McAfee calling for a movement to organize working-class women. She also travelled to a peace movement meeting with the Vietnamese National Liberation Front in Cuba. This trip occurred at the time of the Weatherman takeover of the SDS Executive and during their planning of the Days of Rage at the Democratic Party Convention in Chicago. After the 1970 War Measures Act she lived in Hamilton for 20 years and was active in her CUPE Local and the Hamilton Union Movement. She continues to be active in local community groups in Picton, Ontario.

Womynly Way Productions

  • Pessoa coletiva
  • 1980-?
Formed in 1980, Womynly Way Productions is a non-profit organization producing professional concerts, dance, comedy and theatrical performances featuring primarily women artists. Making cultural events accessible to differently-abled people, including the hearing-impaired, and those who use wheel chairs, is stressed whenever possible. They also provide free childcare at all events.

Women in Trades (WIT)

  • Pessoa coletiva
  • 1979-1989

The origins of the Women In Trades organization came out of a September 1979 meeting where women from several government agencies and educational groups met to come up with a strategy to help women already working in trades or as a starting point for women interested in entering non-traditional occupations. It was evident to the women at this meeting that there were problems with women in trade feeling isolated and not having a support group to discuss issues with. In spring 1980, a working committee was planning the founding meeting of Women In Trades association. This was held in June 1980.

Founding members of the group are Nancy Bayly and Jenny Stimac. There were always a small group but were committed to the cause. Mary Addison served as co-ordinator of the organization throughout the 1980s. Women In Trade helped women from both an educational and political perspective to make sure they received the guidance they needed. They were able to direct women to different training programs and also encourage them to act politically. There were workshops on how to lobby the government and speaking out publicly and also to attend rallies.

The central focus of the organization was to promote women in trade performing non-traditional work. This was an ongoing process. It involved convincing federal and provincial decision makers and labour unionists of the viability of women working in trades. They had to continually work at strengthening the relationship between tradeswomen, unions and employers. The membership of the group had a broad base. Women In Trade was open to women from different racial and ethnic backgrounds and also disabled tradeswomen. To be eligible for membership a women had to: work with her hands, belong to a particular skilled trade and paid hourly doing work with machines. Funding was always a challenge for this organization and they had to be constantly looking for sources of money. They looked to several different Ontario programs for assistance.

Women Plan Toronto

  • Pessoa coletiva
  • 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.

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