Archives for posts with tag: Nellie McClung

On Mother’s Day let’s celebrate some Canadian women who were also mothers.

Kim Campbell was the first and only woman prime minister and the only one born in BC. She never gave birth to children but became the stepmother to three daughters.

Joni Mitchell, one of the greatest female singer songwriters, gave up her only daughter for adoption and they did not meet again until 32 years later.

Mary Two-Axe Earley was a Mohawk woman from the reserve of Kahnawake, Quebec. She worked as an indigenous women’s rights activist against the gender discrimination that lost indigenous women “status” under the Indian Act. She was the mother of two children.

Margaret Laurence, born in Neepawa, Manitoba became one of the most famous Canadian authors with 16 books to her credit. She was also the mother of two and even wrote a children’s book.

Nellie McClung was a women’s rights activist, reformer, and legislator who was instrumental in securing women’s right to vote. She was also a member of first CBC board of governors, author of 16 books, and was the mother of five children! And, I happened to grow up in the same community as she did, near Wawanesa, Manitoba.

My mom was not famous but she should be. She was the oldest of 14 children, born at the end of the Great Depression on the Canadian prairies. She had to quit school at grade 8 [age 13] to look after her younger siblings and then got married at 19, beginning her own family a few years later. I was her firstborn. My mother managed a market garden and a household of six children, getting an education and a job in psychiatric care in midlife. My mom knew how to live more with less. We never had a lot of money, and she never spent it on herself, and always set some aside for special occasions and family trips and outings. Happy Mother’s Day!

My last post was put up in some haste in order to get it out on International Women’s Day, so let me finish it with some more thoughts from Nellie McClung about women’s leadership in church and society. I recall growing up in Wawanesa, MB and learning that Nellie [Mooney] McClung had grown up in the same community. A number of Mooney families still reside there; I even have a brick from the house in which she lived, salvaged when it was demolished. Thus, there is some local fascination besides the fact that she helped to bring the recognition of “women as persons” to our Canadian constitution, and with it the right to vote. She was a writer and a speaker and known for her wit and strong opinions. The following quotes from her 1915 publication, In Times Like These, indicate that she was a woman of her time, yet since we still do not have gender equality in the world—not even in our own country—her words are still relevant for our own time.

On women and reading:
Long years ago, when women asked for an education, the world cried out that it would never do. If women learned to read it would distract them from the real business of life which was to make home happy for some good man. If women learned to read there seemed a possibility that someday some good man might come home and find his wife reading, and the dinner not ready—and nothing could be imagined more horrible than that! That seems to be the haunting fear of mankind—that the advancement of women will sometime, someway, someplace, interfere with some man’s comfort.

I dare say it has and it has been a good thing for all of us!

On women and preaching:
If a woman should feel that she is divinely called of God to deliver a message, I wonder how the church can be so sure that she isn’t. There was a rule given long ago which might be used yet to solve such a problem: ‘And now I say unto you, refrain from these men, and let them alone, for if this council, or this work be of men, it will come to naught, but if it be of God you cannot overthrow it, lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.’
That seems to be a pretty fair way of looking at the matter of preaching; but the churches have decreed otherwise, and in order to save trouble they have decided themselves and not left it to God. It must be great to feel that you are on the private wire from heaven and qualified to settle a matter which concern the spiritual destiny of other people… The church fails to be effective because it has not the use of one wing of its army, and has no one to blame but itself.

Preach it, Nellie!