“I speak to the black experience, but I am always talking about the human condition — about what we can endure, dream, fail at, and still survive.
– Maya Angelou
February 29, 1860 – Canada’s first female Chinese immigrant, Mrs. Kwong Lee, arrived in Victoria British Columbia.
February 2, 1897 – Clara Brett Martin, the first female lawyer in the British Empire set up her law practice in Toronto, Ontario.
February 1897 – Lady Aberdeen, the wife of Canadian Governor General Lord Aberdeen, visited Vancouver in 1896. During this visit, she heard vivid accounts of the hardship and illness affecting women and children in isolated areas. Recognizing a need, Lady Aberdeen formed an order of visiting nurses. As a result, the Right Honourable Prime Minister Sir Wilfred Laurier hosted an inauguration to create the Victorian Order of Nurses (VON) as a way to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. Lady Aberdeen was chosen the first president of the VON.
February 19, 1897 – Adelaide Hunter Hoodless, who was born in Ontario, founded the world’s first Women’s Institute, which was located in Stoney Creek, Ontario. This organization was formed to provide support for the rural wives of farmers.
February 23, 1901 – Ruth Nichols, renowned aviator, was born. Upon graduation from high school, Ruth’s father presented her with the opportunity to ride with Eddie Stinson, ace pilot of World War I. Ruth was so impressed that she began to secretly study flying. She became the first woman in the world to earn an international hydroplane license. In 1927, she was one of the first of two women to receive a Department of Commerce transport license. Her success continued and in 1931, Nichols broke three major women’s records for altitude, speed and distance. After a serious injury in a plane crash, Nichols turned her attention to humanitarian projects.
February 1963 – Marilyn Brooks, a pioneer in the Canadian fashion industry, opened her first boutique named “The Unicorn” in Toronto.
February 28, 1996 – The first time in history that a Canadian won four Grammies in one year. Alanis Morissette, singer/songwriter, won for Best Rock Song, Best Female Rock Vocal Performance, Best Rock Album and Album of the Year.
In recognition of Black History Awareness Month, the following are some notable black women in Canadian History.
Zanana Akande – The first Black female to serve in the Cabinet of the Government of Ontario.
Jean Augustine – First Black woman elected as a federal Member of Parliament.
Annie Aylestock – Canada’s first female Black minister.
Anne Cools – First Black person to be named to the Senate of Canada.
Daurene Lewis – First Black woman in Canada to be elected as a mayor.
Juanita Westmoreland-Traore – First Black judge in Quebec.
Portia White – First Black Canadian woman to become a famous singer.
Forster, M. (2006). This Month in Canadian Herstory: February [web site]. heroines.ca – A Guide to Women in Canadian History. Retrieved from http://www.heroines.ca/history/thismonth.html