WOMEN'S HISTORY NETWORK OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (WHN/BC)
Ideas for Celebrating Women’s History
in British Columbia
1. Plan to attend at least one women’s history event during Canada’s Women’s History Month or around International Women's Day. Check Status of Women Canada’s on-line calendar of events. Hint: The Women's History Network of B.C.'s Annual General Meeting always celebrates Canada's Women's History Month. Take a friend or relative along to your chosen event.
2. Do you have children, grandchildren, younger nieces, nephews or cousins? Encourage them to participate in women’s history month, too. Depending on their ages & interests, you could read to them, or take them out to a local museum or heritage house to look at historical household goods or clothing. Discuss with them what housework might have been like during the period displayed, or talk to them about women who once lived in your area. You might give teenagers posters for their rooms. Status of Women Canada offers Women’s History Month posters each year and Green Dragon Press has new posters every year celebrating women (and lots of books, too) at very reasonable prices.
3. Choose a new women’s history book or article to read in October. Buy new, if you can, or request a copy through your local library. If you don’t see women’s history books at local bookstores or libraries, or on the B.C. Ferries or at your supermarket bookstores, let those stores or locations know you’re interested in new titles. Many women's history books are self-published or offered by small presses, so have a look around the WWW, check out the latest issues of BC Bookworld for reviews and notices of B.C. books, or Herizons for books written by & about women, or join an e-mail newsletter from a bookstore or publisher whose books you already like, perhaps the Women’s Press, Canada’s oldest English language feminist press.
4. Use a historical Woman's quote as your signature on October's e-mails, in snail mail correspondence, or include one on your website, if you have one. Dawn E. Munroe has a page of quotations. Here is another one:
"People must know the past to understand the present, and to face the future.”
Nellie McClung, suffragist, author, activist, politician, & one of Canada’s ‘famous five.’
5. For October, use Canadian stamps that commemorate or include women, for example, the stamps issued in 2006 to honour film stars, Fay Wray & Mary Pickford. For a very special occasion, have a picture of one of the women of your family made into personalized Canadian stamps.
6. Do you do everything on the web? Search for e-cards to send during Canada’s Women’s History Month. WomanLinks.com has some you could personalize. If you’re artistic, design a card & offer it to one of the on-line sites, suggesting they include it for Canada’s WHM. Many of these sites have cards for the U.S. women’s history or women’s equality days. E-mail & suggest they add Canada’s women’s history month to their calendar of events. Please let us know when Canadian ones are available.
For friends & family who aren’t on the web, watch for historical cards with women's images. The Whistler Museum has cards showing Myrtle Philip & Agnes Harrop ice-boating on Alta Lake, B.C. & the City of Vancouver Archives has cards of women skating on Trout Lake. The British Columbia Nursing History Group also sells great cards.
7. Re-read a childhood favourite or, ask your mother or aunts about books they read as young girls, then choose & read one. Share your feelings about the book with them or with someone else—in conversation or in writing.
8. Choose some fiction, poetry, or an art book written by or about women to read in October. Not all history is written as ‘non-fiction’. Mysteries, for instance, would be my choice. How about Death in a Family Way, by Gwendolyn Southin, set in 1950’s Vancouver, British Columbia, or any one of the English suffragette sleuth Nell Bray novels by Gillian Linscott.
9. Donate a B.C. woman’s history book to senior’s residence library or to a non-profit group’s resource centre. Women’s centre or local genealogical or historical society members may be very pleased to receive books about women for their library.
10. Are you a BookCrosser? (If not, why not check out the bookcrossing website?) If so, release a book or two by women writers for October. Do it at a women’s history month event, if you can. Women’s history can be found in novels and poetry, or art books; don’t just stick to historical non-fiction. Include a note about the significance of Canada's WHM in your books & your journal entries. (Do you use Bookcrossing bookplates? Choose one by a woman artist, too! Are you a Canadian artist? You could offer Bookcrossing a bookplate design.)
11. Do you have a website? Feature a link to a different woman’s history site each month.
Women Tourists at Field, B.C. Postcard, private collection.
12. Does your historical or genealogical group put up displays each year for a special holiday or festival? Volunteer to make sure women’s contributions to your community are included.
13. Start now to research and write about the women in your own family, (that includes yourself.) What changes in women’s legal status and work opportunities did they see during their lifetimes, for example? Interview those you can, and, if they are willing, share the information with family now. For some interesting thoughts about researching and interviewing women, see Her-Story, Uncovering Women’s Lives, by Jone Johnson Lewis and Kimberley T. Powell, on-line at www.womenshistory.about.com
14. Sign up with a historical or genealogical e-mail group, and share your own or your family’s women’s history research with others on-line.
15. Join a women’s history group! Share your ideas & your enthusiasm & let people know about your women's history events & accomplishments!
Plan for next year's WHM!
16. Design a new Canadian women’s history card game or crossword. See Dawn E. Monroe’s great Canadian ideas, or follow this link to see an example of a U.S. women’s history game by Cheryl Keeney. Women's history isn't only about 'exceptional' women; add historical women from your local community to your game.
17. Encourage a group you belong to or your local bookstore, coffee shop or library to sponsor a historical talk, or a reading or a video night, or, organize one at home for yourself, family & friends.
18. Do you belong to a women's organization? Volunteer to help to preserve its history by careful storage of older records, including minutes, photographs, scrapbooks & the like. Check with a local archives to see if these can be placed under professional care. Think about doing a display or publishing a history of your organization for next year.
19. Do you have family treasures that relate to women's history? Would you like to donate these to an archives or a museum? Some are actively seeking material on women.
20. Plan to continue celebrating women’s history all year!
For more ideas, see Merna Forster’s website heroines.ca, A Guide to Women in Canadian History
Have other ideas for celebrating women’s history month in B.C. or Canada? Please let us add your suggestions to this list to share with everyone. E-mail the webmistress at firstname.lastname@example.org
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[ Updated November 2009 ]