Happy International Women’s Day!

Written by: Alisa Grange, Chamber Young Professionals Committee + Licensed Paralegal 

Did you know that the journey for women’s rights in Canada has been a complex and often challenging one? While some women obtained the right to vote in a sporadic fashion, it wasn’t until 1918 that federal authorities granted them this right. However, even then, women were not considered “persons” until 1929. Moreover, until the Canada Elections Act was enacted in 1960, First Nations women could not vote unless they had lost or given up their treaty rights and Indian status. Despite these obstacles, women persevered, fighting for equality before and under the law, which was finally enshrined in the new Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1981.

Fast forward to the present day, and we witness the incredible achievements of women who have been inspired by those who came before them. One such inspiring Indigenous woman is Sage Paul, an award-winning artist, designer, and founding collective member and artistic director of Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto (IFWTO). Hailing from Toronto and a member of English River First Nation, Sage Paul is renowned for her work in fashion, costume, and crafts.

Another remarkable woman is Afua Cooper, the seventh and current Halifax Regional Municipality Poet Laureate. As an ambassador for poetry and literacy, Afua Cooper’s accomplishments are particularly notable considering the historical challenges faced by black women in education and literacy.

In the realm of sports, one cannot overlook the contributions of Hayley Wickenheiser, a Canadian sports legend and four-time Olympic gold medalist. Wickenheiser, an all-around hockey hero, played an instrumental role in shaping women’s ice hockey, even before the Winter Olympics had women’s tournaments, which began in 1998. In 2003, she made history by becoming the first woman to score a goal in a men’s semi-professional league. Her list of professional accomplishments is extensive, with Wickenheiser holding the title of Canada’s all-time leader in international goals, assists, and points. With 276 games with Team Canada under her belt, Wickenheiser’s legacy in Canadian sports is truly unparalleled.

As we celebrate International Women’s Day, let us honor the achievements and contributions of women past and present, and continue to strive for a more inclusive and equitable future. Go Canada!