Billy, Mary

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Billy, Mary

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Mary Billy, born May 31, 1936, was a feminist, activist and writer. Billy was born in Abbotsford, British Columbia, but carried out most of her professional life in Squamish, British Columbia. She worked as a taxi driver, coordinator of a women’s centre and school bus driver before discovering herself as a writer.
Billy self-published a collection of short writings and poems titled In The Turning: Summer Journal of a Sojourner in the Women’s Movement in 1986. She was strongly influenced by Margaret Laurence and Al Purdy. In 1988, she attended the West Coast Women & Words Writing School and Retreat at the University of British Columbia.
In 1989, Billy released the first edition of Facing the Horror: The Femicide list, a list of names and short synopses of the incidents of women murdered in Canada by men since first anniversary of the Montreal Massacre in 1989.
In 1989, Billy founded Herspectives magazine, a quarterly journal of writings by women. Herspectives published work by both emerging and seasoned women writers and provided a lively forum for a broad range of women’s issues until it ceased publication in 1995.
Billy published another book of poetry, Over The Falls, in 1998. During that year, she also was awarded the International Helen prize, named after Dr. Helen Caldicott, which honors “ordinary women for their many heroic, significant, but often unrecognized contributions to the quality of life on our planet.” Billy received this award in recognition of mentoring young women, her many years as a feminist activist and for maintaining The Femicide List.
In 2001, Billy published her third collection of poetry, Under My Blue Hat, followed by a fourth collection, She is Carved in Stone, in 2009.
Billy remained a dedicated feminist and activist into her retirement and until her death in 2015. She produced a line of Happy International Women’s Day greeting cards, made dishcloths for The Stephen Lewis Foundation on HIV/AIDS in Africa and contributed to The Defiant Women’s Support Fund. She had three daughters and four grandchildren.


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Created January 6, 2016. SS




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