Grace Lore, Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity, has issued the following statement in honour of Women’s History Month:
“Thirty years ago, Canada designated October as the month to celebrate the achievements of women in our country. Like other provinces, British Columbia has a long history of incredible women and girls who have fought for justice and equality for all.
“From Mary Ellen Smith, the first woman elected to the legislative assembly in 1918 – just one year after many women gained the right to vote in Canada – to Hide Hyodo Shimizu, who was among the first Japanese Canadians to receive a teaching certificate and who addressed Parliament in 1936 to have voting rights restored to Asian immigrants and their descendants, there are countless women and girls who have made their mark on history.
“Mary MacNeill was the first woman to register as a medical doctor with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia in 1893. And Elsie MacGill, born in Vancouver in 1905, was the first woman in the world to earn a master's degree in aeronautical engineering and become an aircraft designer. In 1950, Nsibe Kaur Puri was the first Sikh woman to graduate from high school in B.C. and then went on to be recognized with the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award in 1999.
“In addition, Barbara Howard, an accomplished athlete, was the first person of colour to be hired as a teacher in Vancouver. And Aiyyana Maracle, a Two-Spirit transgender woman, artist and author, became known for bringing important awareness for Indigenous views of gender.
“Also, Gloria Cranmer Webster from the 'Na̱mg̱is First Nation, who received the Order of Canada for her lifelong work preserving Indigenous culture, was the first Indigenous woman to graduate from the University of British Columbia and has produced numerous language books. And Eleanor Collins, who was the first Black artist in North America to host a national TV series, is revered as a civic leader and one who fostered equality and acceptance.
“Women in our communities have continued to build on their important work. This includes our business leaders, our family members supporting each of us and those working on the front lines to provide the crucial services that people in British Columbia rely on. Women and girls in all our communities are breaking down barriers and building a stronger, more equitable province for everyone.
“I am inspired by the people I have met as parliamentary secretary who are committed to equity, fairness and justice for all. We know that we need to support the work of community-based services and organizations, and we must continue to learn from their important work.
“Our government is committed to ensuring that everyone in British Columbia can live in safety and with dignity, and we are committed to addressing systemic barriers and inequity in our province. Our work so far includes our historic investments in high-quality, affordable child care, safe homes for women and children in need, and in training programs, as well as restoring funding for survivors of sexualized violence that was previously cut, working to introduce pay transparency legislation, and launching an action plan to help end gender-based violence.
“We know there’s more work to do toward gender equity in B.C. and our government is up to the task.”
Learn more about Canadian women in history: https://women-gender-equality.canada.ca/en/commemorations-celebrations/women-impact.html