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Women and Words Society

  • Corporate body
  • 1982-1998

The West Coast Women and Words Society was incorporated in 1982 with the goal of supporting women's writing. The society held an influential conference in Vancouver from June 30 to July 3, 1983; participants included Canadian women writers, editors, publishers, critics, printers, typesetters, academics, playwrights, librarians, distributors, booksellers, translators, and educational and cultural organizers. The conference featured presentations of papers, panel discussions, workshops and interviews relevant to such themes as: feminism, power and alternative structures doing it (i.e. developing work strategies), traditions and new directions. Following the conference, the West Coast Women and Word Society continued to fulfil their mandate by organizing poetry competitions, hosting readings and events, editing and compiling anthologies of women's writing, and running a mentorship program designed to connect young women writers with more established ones.

Women's Bookstore

  • Corporate body
  • [197-?] - [199-?]

In 1972, there was increasing awareness within the Vancouver women's movement that a number of feminist periodicals and books published by small women's presses were unavailable in Vancouver. The Vancouver Women's Bookstore, which evolved from A Women's Place, opened on July 16, 1973 to address this need. The bookstore would make available women's movement literature such as underground papers, literary magazines, pamphlets, and books that portrayed women as intelligent, strong, equal, and creative human beings. The bookstore was also seen as important to help facilitate communication between Canadian women and the larger women's movement in North America, and between Vancouver women and women in outlying areas. In addition, the bookstore also functioned as a centre where women could meet to read, discuss issues, and plan rallies, marches and demonstrations.

The Vancouver Women's Bookstore Collective operated the store as a non-profit enterprise, with members of the collective staffing the bookstore as unpaid volunteers. Members of the collective also reviewed each title before it was made available to the public to ensure that it fit in with the goals of the women's movement and feminist ideology. Finances not channeled back to the store were used to support various women's movement ventures through donations. One method of support consisted of shipping books to women's groups outside Vancouver. In exchange for selling the books at meetings and conferences, the women's groups would retain a small commission to help fund their activities. Members of the Collective also accumulated material to document the 'herstory' of the women's movement in Vancouver, and North America.

On October 14, 1980, an arsonist's fire destroyed the Women's Bookstore that had been located at 804 Richards Street since it opened in 1973. The bookstore reopened at 322 West Hastings Street in January 1981. In 1983, the Women's Bookstore relocated again to 315 Cambie Street. Changes in the operating structure occurred in 1992, when the collective, non-profit organization shifted to a worker-owned cooperative. In June 1996, the Women's Bookstore closed its doors for the last time. Finding it harder to survive, the cooperative decided to shut the store while it could still meet its financial obligations. After suppliers were paid, stock was donated to the SFU Women's Centre, and the Gay and Lesbian Library. In addition, leftover funds (about $1,000) were donated to the Downtown Eastside Women's Centre.

Women's Cultural Exchange

  • Corporate body

The Women's Cultural Exchange incorporated under the Societies Act in October 1976. Its objectives were to promote an appreciation of women involved in cultural endeavors in the community; to establish a common space for women who wish to share and exchange their skills, arts and resources in a congenial setting; to facilitate self-help through skill-building workshops, meetings and other educational activities; and, to further communication in order to develop a more cohesive women's community. A space was found at 217 East 16th Avenue and opened April 15, 1977. The Exchange hosted film nights, art exhibits, workshops, readings, performances and other like activities. After five months the Exchange shut down due to lack of revenue and an insufficient number of women in the Exchange collective to run the establishment effectively.

Women's Monument Project

  • Corporate body

The information for the administrative history was provided by the Women's Monument Project Committee.

The Women's Monument Project was founded in 1990 by Christine McDowell, a Capilano College student, in response to the massacre of fourteen women at Montreal's l'Ecole Polytechnique on December 6, 1989. Genevieve Bergeron, Nathalie Croteau, Anne-Marie Edward, Barbara Klucznik, Maryse Leclair, Sonia Pelletier, Annie St-Arneault, Helene Colgan, Barbara Daigneault, Maud Haviernick, Maryse Laganiere, Anne-Marie Lemay, Michele Richard and Annie Turcotte all died at the hands of a man who said he killed them because they were women. A few months after the unveiling of the monument, Marker of Change, by artist Beth Alber in Thornton Park in Vancouver on December 6, 1997, the Project became inactive. The Project's objectives were to focus national attention on the widespread problem of male violence against women; to build a permanent public art memorial to the fourteen women and to all women who have been victims of violence; to create a lasting testament to the value of women, the sanctity of human life and the refusal to be defeated by violence; and, to offer employment opportunities to women in all aspects of the Project from fundraising to design to construction. Through its fundraising and consciousness-raising efforts, the Project made contact with thousands of individual donors from across Canada and around the world, with community groups, unions and associations, schools, corporations, government, private foundations and the media.

A Committee coordinated the Project. The floor of the Orientation Stand at the Monument site states, "A feminist project realized by a small group of women in collaboration with Capilano College, with love for all people." During the Project's eight-year duration, from 3 to 10 women actively served on the Committee at any given time. Committee members included Lisa Brisebois, Kim Bruce, Janine Carscadden, Dawn Dalley, Christine McDowell, Vanessa Pasqualetto, Krista Marshall, Lianne Payne, Lindsay Setzer, and Elinor Warkentin. Other members were Susan Anderson, Gail Attara, Rita Beiks, Jennifer Bradley, Lorna Brown, Margot Butler, Karen Egger, Alexandra Ewashen, Maura Gatensby, Cate Jones, Deborah MacFarlane, Kelly Phillips, Wonda Seaboyer, Elena Shragge and Maria Walther. Many volunteers who did not sit on the Committee also participated in the Project. Carol McCandless and Olga Kempo represented Capilano College.

Usually meeting every two weeks, the Committee was a forum for collective decision-making. In 1992 a paid, part-time staff position was created, and in late 1993 a Coordinator for the national design competition was hired for ten months. There was no core funding; these positions were supported through government grants or fundraising.

Capilano College sponsored the Project by providing its endorsement, infrastructure (such as office space and telephones), charitable tax status, and administrative support.

Women's Studies Association of British Columbia

  • Corporate body

The Women's Studies Association of British Columbia was a province-wide organization set up in 1974 to improve women's social status through the promotion, continuation and development of women'studies programmes at the post-secondary level of education and at adult community education centres. Soon afterwards, the association expanded to include high-school women's studies curricula. On December 11, 1978 the association incorporated as a society; it disbanded in 1980 due to declining support and lack of representation by members from colleges and universities.

The objectives of the Women's Studies Association were to promote women's studies in the province; to encourage research into previously unexamined aspects of Canadian women's lives, with particular emphasis on BC; to establish adequate support services for women at all post-secondary institutions throughout the province; and, to ensure that women's studies remained a part of the women's movement and that staff and students involved in women's studies were familiar with the aims and objectives of the women's movement.

A standing committee consisting of a coordinator, a secretary, a treasurer, a communications organizer, and a member-at-large directed the association. Membership included students and faculty from the province's community colleges and universities, persons from community service groups, and people with an individual interest in women's studies.

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