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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).

Darlington Hex

Video with no sound filmed by Judith Quinlan on a Super 8 Camera of a small hexing circle organized by Judith for a group of feminist climate activist (possibly the Women Against Nuclear Power group in Toronto) at a large anti-nuclear protest against the Darlington Nuclear Power Plant (today called Darlington Nuclear Generating Station) in Clarington, Ontario. Judith Quinlan writes "We made a hexing circle at the protest to close the Darlington Nuclear Power Plant." Video depicts protesters in a large field during summer and a smaller group playing instruments, waving cylinder tubes, and forming a hexing circle. Judith Quinlan writes “One of the speakers in the week leading up to it was Ursula Franklin. The hex was a small portion of that protest. It was organized by me and a group of feminists who were also climate activists.” Other people seen in the video are Gay Bell, Anne Quigley, Ellen Quigley, Jacqueline Frewin, Pat Smith, and Maureen Sanderson. Gay Bell writes in an article titled “Witches ANT: Anti-nuclear guerilla theatre” on page 7 of the October/November 1979 issue of UPSTREAM that the guerilla theater section of Women Against Nuclear Power called Witches ANT is putting on a play called “Sizzle City: Women’s Nuclear Reactions”. Gay Bell writes “The Witches' ANT came together to do anti-nuclear theater after the June occupation of the Darlington Nuclear Plant site near Toronto.”

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."

Gay Days

Video with no sound of a celebration titled Gay Days in Queen's Park, Toronto filmed by Judith Quinlan on a Super 8 Camera. The video shows a sunny day in Queen's Park with booths for different organizations like the Lesbian Organization of Toronto (LOOT) and Toronto Area Gays (a peer counseling and information service). Also shown is Lorna Boschman giving a speech on a stage at the beginning and people sitting and walking in the park.

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.

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 Joanne St. Lewis

This video clip documents a portion of an interview with Joanne St. Lewis, a bencher of the Law Society of Upper Canada (now Law Society of Ontario), a governing body for lawyers in Ontario. 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. Joanne states in the interview "[...] I am the first Black woman elected in 208 years. Now they talk about gender issues there, and from my perspective, I don't think any of those women, other than my colleague who is the only aboriginal woman, has any sense of what a constant negotiation it is for me to be in there. I don't automatically coalesce with the women. I think I have different ideas of what feminism is about. I think I see a liberation struggle for Black people at a global level, which means Black men, women, and children together to be liberated from colonial regime. [...] " The description for the interview on the 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." 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 Malalai Joya

This video documents an interview with Malalai Joya, a member of parliament in Afghanistan. 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: "Malalai Joya has been called the ‘woman who will not be silenced’ while she exposes the dangerous and difficult situation for the Afghan people." In 2003, Malalai spoke out publicly against warlords in Afghanistan while serving as an elected delegate to the Loya Jirga, the assembly convened to ratify Afghanistan's constitution. In 2005, Malalai became one of 68 women elected to the 249-seat National Assembly known as the Wolesi Jirga. 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 Mary Balikungeri

This video documents an interview with Mary Balikungeri, director of the Rwanda Women’s Network. 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. In the section titled "The Interviews" on Constitute.ca it reads: "Mary Balikungeri, the Director of the Rwanda Women’s Network, talks about the Rwandan genocide and its impact on women and children and the role at the network plays in reconciliation and building a health society in Rwanda." 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.

International Womens Day Toronto 1979

Video with no sound filmed by Judith Quinlan on a Super 8 Camera depicts a group of protestors holding signs on International Women's Day standing in front of Toronto Old City Hall.
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