2016 marks the centenary of woman suffrage (with the exception of First Nations) in the provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. On the cold first day of March 1916 when the Equal Suffrage Bill was read for the second time, women thronged the legislature. There were prominent activists present including Nellie McClung and Emily Murphy, and there were delegates from over fifteen organizations including the Equal Franchise League, the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, Rebekah Lodges, Women’s Industrial Society, and the Jewish Women’s Society. An unusual sight in the chamber that day for the first time ever, were babies in arms, so eager were their mothers to witness this moment in history. The bill was passed with only one dissenting vote. The women then gathered outside to have this photo taken.
This centenary provides an opportunity to reflect on women’s activism and women’s history in this region. We invite participants from a wide range of disciplines and career stages to critically reflect on the history and legacy of diverse women’s political and social activism at the grassroots, community and formal/political levels. We seek papers that look beyond the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and address the 1960s and beyond to Idle No More. How can an understanding of this complex and diverse history, fraught with tensions and exclusion, and issues of power and privilege, help our complicated present?
Organizers have planned this as a conference with minimal concurrent sessions to maximize opportunities to all hear the same papers, and to engage in dynamic discussion.