While I exercised my fledgling snowbird wings in Florida this winter, many pals made time to share a little sunshine with me. On one visit, a friend of nearly 30 years and I somehow got into a gentle debate about when women in Canada got the right to vote. I said 1918; she was adamant that it wasn’t until 1960. We hauled our sun-drenched bodies from the lanai to the computer to do a little research.
Turns out we were both right. But our perspectives were slightly off.
I googled women in Canada and March 1918 popped up as the year all women who were qualified could vote in federal elections! I do like being right.
After a long swallow of her frosty, sweet iced tea, and giving me enough time to gloat, she casually suggested I adjust my search parameters to ‘all women in Canada’. Huh? Didn’t I just do that? So I searched again, inserting that little word ‘all’.
She was right … it was 1960! Native women covered by the Indian Act were prohibited from voting in federal elections until 1960. Most women of colour – Chinese women, ‘Hindu’ or East Indian women, Japanese women – were granted the right to vote at the federal level in the late 1940’s.
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She should have been smug as hell, but instead she gave a little sigh, the kind of sigh that only a first nation woman, who has struggled against prejudice for a lifetime, has any right to make.
So, we topped up our glasses, returned to the sunshine and continued the conversation about all womens rights in Canada.