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Archival description
Constitute! collection
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Constitute! collection

  • CA ON0034 10-187
  • Collection
  • 1981-2019
The collection consists of audiovisual material and an archived website. The audiovisual files document interviews, talks, or events with women activists fighting for women's constitutional and human rights. Women activists featured in the collection come from Canada, Afghanistan, South Africa, Rwanda, and Uganda. The archived website Constitute.ca is a multi-media educational resource from the International Women's Rights Project (IWRP). The records date from 1981-2019 and were collected by Susan Bazilli or IWRP. Some of the interviews and footage appear in IWRP's documentary film Constitute! while others document IWRP projects .

Bazilli, Susan

Constitute! : women's constitutional activism

Constitute! is a documentary film on the Women's Constitutional Conference which took place on Parliament Hill, Ottawa, February 14, 1981 to insure equal rights for women in the Canadian Constitution's Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Sections 15 and 18). The documentary was created by Susan Bazilli and Robert Rooney as part of the International Women's Rights Project (IWRP), University of Victoria. The documentary was produced by Rooney Productions. IWRP made the documentary available on Constitute.ca. The description on the website reads: "Constitute! tells the story of the largest social mobilization of women in Canadian history in the 20th century. Led by the Ad Hoc Committee of Canadian Women and the Constitution, women and other activists across the country fought to gain stronger equality provisions were entrenched in the newly repatriated Constitution’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Sections 15 and 28). The film celebrates their constitutional activism and passion for democratic renewal. Constitute! educates and informs about how important citizen engagement is for democracy in Canada and beyond. Interviews, speeches, songs, debates and images tells the story of what happened on that cold Valentine’s Day in 1981 and what it means to future generations of young Canadians." The end credits of the film have a statement that reads: "With special thanks to Marilou McPhedran for conceiving and organizing The Canadian Forum on Women's Activism in Constitutional and Democratic Reform in February 2006, which made this film possible." Marilou McPhedran was the director of the Institute for International Women’s Rights at the University of Winnipeg. The section titled "The Interviews" on Constitute.ca, it states that Sally Armstrong is a Canadian journalist and human rights activist who interviewed the women in the film Constitute! The interviews were conducted in 2006 at the Canadian Forum on Women’s Activism in Constitutional and Democratic Reform in Ottawa. Women identified in the film are in order of appearance : Marilou McPhedran (Ad Hock Committee), Doris Anderson (former president of CACSW), Michele Landsberg (columnist), Lynn MacDonald (president, National Action Committee on the Status of Women (NAC)) Betsy Carr (member of executive, NAC), Linda Palmer Nye (Ad Hoc Committee of Canadian Women and the Constitution), Pat Hacker (Ad Hoc Committee of Canadian Women and the Constitution), Flora Mac Donald M.P., Caroline Egan (International Women's Day Committee, Toronto), Marlene Pierre (president, Native Women’s Association of Canada), Jenny Margetts (president, Indian Rights for Indian Women), Sharon McIvor (Native Women's Association of Canada), Pauline Jewett M.P., Linda Ryan[Palmer?] Nye (Ad Hock Committee).

Dr. Carrie Best speaking at the Women's Constitutional Conference, February 14th, 1981, Parliament Hill, Ottawa

This video documents Dr. Carrie Best speaking at the Women's Constitutional Conference on February 14, 1981 held on Parliament Hill, Ottawa. Dr. Best was the president of the Visible Minority Women's Society of Nova Scotia and co-founded the Clarion in 1946, one of the first newspapers owned and published by Black Canadians in Nova Scotia. The description titled "Equality and Racialized Women in Canada" on Constitute.ca reads: "The marginalization of racialized women still continues in Canada. See what Dr. Carrie Best said in 1981 and Joanne St. Lewis in 2006. We still have a long way to go in Canada to address the racism in our society." Constitute.ca was a project of the International Women’s Rights Project (IWRP), University of Victoria. Dr. Best states in the video: " I really don't need to tell you that I represent a minority group, because I happen to be the only one here representing the Black women of Canada. But that's not exactly ... Correction... and an apology… Over thirty years ago, I came here when Anne Francis had her conference, and I was definitely then, the lone representative of the Black women of Canada, and I presented a brief on their behalf, and I've come a long distance today, and I find that there is only one more of us here, and I think that should tell us something as women of Canada. Now 78, I'm still only number two. I would like to commend the Native Women's Association for their resolution, and I would like to quote this for you ..." At this point in the video the chairman states: "Dr. Best, excuse me but at this point in the agenda please, questions of clarification." Then Dr. Best goes on to state in the video: "Well this is a question of clarification if you'll permit me to read it. [...] [Dr. Best reads a quote from the charter on Indigenous rights and freedoms] Then Dr. Best states in the video: "[...] and I am suggesting madam chairman, that not only do we deny the existence of certain rights, but it appears that you have denied the very existence of the Black women of Canada."

Tape no. 1 : raw footage of the Women's Constitutional Conference, February 14th, 1981, Ottawa

This video consists of raw unedited footage of the Women's Constitutional Conference which took place February 14th, 1981 on Parliament Hill, Ottawa. Some of this footage also appears in the documentary film Constitute! a project of the International Women’s Rights Project (IWRP), University of Victoria. The video was posted on the Constitute.ca website. Women identified in the raw footage are: Linda Palmer Nye (Ad Hoc Committee of Canadian Women and the Constitution), Dr. Carrie Best (president, Visible Minority Women's Society of Nova Scotia), Flora MacDonald M.P.

Tape no. 2 : raw footage of the Women's Constitutional Conference, February 14th, 1981, Ottawa

This video consists of raw unedited footage of the Women's Constitutional Conference which took place February 14, 1981 on Parliament Hill, Ottawa. Some of this footage also appears in the documentary film Constitute! made available on the Constitute.ca website. Constitute! is a project of the International Women’s Rights Project (IWRP), University of Victoria. A few women identified in the video are: are Linda Palmer Nye at min 0:06:38 (Ad Hoc Committee of Canadian Women and the Constitution), Marlene Pierre at min 0:2:43 (activist and president, Native Women's Association of Canada).

Global conversations with Sally Armstrong: Interview with Dr. Sima Samar

This video documents an interview with Dr. Sima Simar, chairperson of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission. The interview was conducted by Sally Armstrong at the Canadian Forum on Women’s Activism in Constitutional and Democratic Reform on February 14th, 2006, Parliament Hill, Ottawa. The description for the video on the Constitute.ca website reads: "Dr. Sima Samar is the Chairperson of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission. A medical doctor, she set up illegal clinics for women and girls under the Taliban, and has dedicated her life to the liberation of women from the repressive Taliban and Afghan regimes. She was briefly appointed as the Deputy Prime Minister of Afghanistan and the Minister of Women’s Affairs after the first democratic elections in 2004." The video is supplementary interview material for the documentary film Constitute!. Constitute.ca is a project of the International Women’s Rights Project (IWRP), University of Victoria.

Global conversations with Sally Armstrong: Interview with Dr. Gertrude Fester

This video documents an interview with Dr. Gertrude Fester, human rights activist and member of the South African parliament in 1994. The interview was conducted by Sally Armstrong at the Canadian Forum on Women’s Activism in Constitutional and Democratic Reform on February 14th, 2006, Parliament Hill, Ottawa. The description for the interview on Constitute.ca reads: "Dr. Gertrude Fester, a feminist activist, educator, poet and writer from South Africa, who is a former Member of Parliament, and a Commissioner of the Gender Commissioner. She discusses a brief herstory of South African women’s rights and the parallels to the Canadian women’s movement." The video is supplementary interview material for the documentary film Constitute!. Constitute.ca is a project of the International Women’s Rights Project (IWRP), University of Victoria.

Lerato Legoabe speaking at the Canadian Forum on Women's Activism in Constitutional and Democratic Reform, 2006, Parliament Hill, Ottawa

This video documents Lerato Legoabe, Coordinator of GirlsNet, South Africa, speaking at the Canadian Forum on Women’s Activism in Constitutional and Democratic Reform on February 14th, 2006, Parliament Hill, Ottawa. The event was an intergenerational forum on democratic renewal to produce forward looking strategies in a global context for intergenerational women’s equality rights. Lerato states in the video: "[...] I want to end with three challenges and, like I did yesterday, I want to cluster them together. The issue of access to information. The issue of violence against women because I feel violence against women, as a South African and I think, as a young woman of the world, is a very big challenge that many governments, civil society and people in general are struggling to deal with and I feel that, as the young women's movement, we need to be a voice that has a position on this issue. We also need to come up with strategies that will influence some of the activism that needs to happen on the ground on this issue: HIV AIDS and its link to violence against women, child trafficking (it's now called modern day slavery). We need to have a position on that. [...]" The 2006 forum was held in the same room on Parliament Hill as the 1981 Women’s Constitutional Conference twenty-five years prior. The 2006 forum was attended by original members of Ad Hoc Committee of Canadian Women and the Constitution (who organized the 1981 conference) along with parliamentarians, students and other activists over the course of two days.
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