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The origins of what later became the CWMA/ACMF were the records of the Toronto feminist newspaper The Other Woman. When the newspaper ceased publication in 1977, Pat Leslie, editor of The Other Woman, moved the newspaper’s records into her apartment and was the custodian of the first Canadian Women’s Archives (CWMA) documents. From 1977 until 1982, she preserved The Other Woman records and some additional material relating to the Canadian Women’s Movement in her apartment. In 1983, working with a group of women including Nancy Adamson, Sandy Fox, Weisia Kolansinka and Lorna Weir under the banner of the NGO the Women’s Information Center (WIC) , a registered Canadian charity, an application was made for a Canada Community Development Grant. This allowed the group to rent a room in a building on the corner of Spadina Avenue and College Street in Toronto where they moved the documents from Pat Leslie’s apartment and it was here they began to collect records and documents related to the Canadian Women’s Movement. The CWMA Collective took responsibility for the collection from 1983 forward. That collective, which changed in membership over the years, operated the Canadian Women’s Movement Archives/ACMF, until it was relocated to the University of Ottawa in 1992. Members of the collective who were active for a significant period of time included: Nancy Adamson, Jane Abray, Karen Dubinsky, Sandy Fox, Debbie A. Green, Luanne Karn, Andrea Knight, Weisia Kolasinska, Pat Leslie, Anne Molgat, Beth McAuley, Joanne Pelletier, Margaret Shepherd, Miriam Ticoll, Tori Smith, and Lorna Weir.
After the opening of the public CWMA in 1983/84, the collection was catalogued and became available to researchers. Various grants, annual yard sales, and other fundraising allowed the CWMA/ACMF collective to hire staff from time to time, to actively collect the records of women’s groups across Canada and to promote the CWMA/ACMF. In 1991 the Collective decided that it was no longer possible to maintain the CWMA/ACMF as an independent organization and sought interest from other archives and universities in the collection. The Collective felt that the collection’s credibility rested on the fact that it came out of the women’s movement and was nurtured by feminists and operated in a manner consistent with those principles. As much as possible the Collective wanted to place the collection with an institution that would respect that. Ultimately, the Collective decided to donate the CWMA/ACMF records to the University of Ottawa. Both parties agreed that the CWMA/ACMF collection would be maintained in its entirety as a separate collection with the hope that additional records from the Canadian women’s movement would be collected by the Archives and Special Collections.
In 1992 the CWMA/ACMF records were donated to the University of Ottawa, who “took over the CWMA/ACMF’s mandate” and started accepting new donations that would become a part of an ongoing collection documenting the groups and individuals who made up the Canadian Women’s Movement.
Subsequently, the Midwifery Task Force of Ontario (MFT-O), a community-based lobby group, was established to promote legislation and recognition of midwifery. Around the same time, the association of practicing midwives (Ontario Association of Midwives) and nurse-midwives association (Ontario Nurse-Midwives Association) joined together to form the Association of Ontario Midwives (AOM). The MTF-O gained support from women and their families seeking an alternative to the medical model of childbirth and maternity care. Over the next several years, the AOM and the MTF-O worked together to advocate the creation of midwifery as a recognized profession. This culminated in Bill 56, the Midwifery Act which was passed on December 31, 1993 making Ontario the first province in Canada to recognize, regulate and fund midwifery as part of the health care system.
Prior to Wages for Housework’s demise, in the mid-1970s a group of lesbians which had belonged to it created a new organization, Wages Due Lesbians (also known as Wages Due). Their policies were much the same, however, their emphasis was on the rights of lesbian mothers. Their constitutional difference was that: “Wages for Housework recognizes that doing cleaning, raising children, taking care of men, is not women’s biological destiny. Lesbianism recognizes that heterosexual love and marriage is not women’s biological destiny. Both are definitions of women’s roles by the state and for the advantage of the state.” (Lesbians Organize, Toronto, Ontario, 1977)
The Wages Due Lesbians organization campaigned to have housework recognized as work and demanded the right to have relationships with other women. They also made demands to the government for paid daycare, so that lesbian women could work and keep their children. As with Wages for Housework, they were highly involved in campaigns, rallies and publishing articles on women rights and in particular lesbian mothers’ rights. The organization seems to have disbanded by the early 1980s.
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.
The Toronto Wages for Housework Committee (WFH) was a women’s group based in Toronto which began its operations around 1973. This committee was a branch of an international organization of the same name. It demanded that the federal and provincial governments pay wages for housework. It believed that housework kept women in the home, without financial independence from men. It also fought against the lower wages women received in paid employment, which also kept women dependent on a man’s income. The group attempted to rectify the inequality by launching campaigns in which isolated women could come together and struggle for their causes.
The Toronto Wages for Housework Committee gathered a large number of articles, pamphlets and newsletters from various organizations including the Wages for Housework Committee from other countries, organizations across Canada and several organizations from the Toronto area. The Wages for Housework Committee of Toronto often attended conferences on women's issues and kept themselves aware of the activities of other organizations. They were also active in organizing campaigns and producing articles related to wage issues. Although the date of their demise is not known, it appears from the documents that they ceased operation sometime in 1986.
Women Working with Immigrant Women (WWIW) was established in 1974, incorporated in 1985, with the goal of organizing workshops and sharing information to understand the problems and needs of Canada's growing immigrant population. WWIW sponsored workshops, courses, events, and programs, produced information kits, published books and articles, and produced a film. WWIW has also worked with other organizations to lobby the government for rights of immigrant women and women of colour, and to spread awareness about the issues encountered by immigrant communities in Canada.
In 1983, WWIW joined forces with the Coalition of Visible Minority Women to form the Ontario Immigrant and Visible Minority Women's Network. WWIW was also affiliated with the National Action Committee on the Status of Women and the National Organization of Immigrant and Visible Minority Women. In the 1990s, funding cuts caused WWIW to lose its core membership. By 1995, due to federal and provincial cutbacks, WWIW had lost so much of its funding that it could no longer support its staff. Although WWIW is no longer as active, it remains present in the Canadian women's movement, and was last seen in 2015 protesting discrimination against women wearing niqab.