From Where I Sit – Our Duty

At this moment three Canadian provinces and one territory are being led by female premiers. They are Christy Clark, Liberal, in British Columbia; Alison Redford, Progressive Conservative, Alberta; Kathy Dunderdale, Progressive Conservative, Newfoundland-Labrador; and Eva Aariak, Independent, Nunavat.

Whether your reaction is ?It’s about time!? or ?What’s this world coming to?? might depend on your age, gender, and degree of awareness that It’s even happened. And, no, we’re not going there.

While listening to bits and pieces of a CBC radio program (Cross Country Checkup. I think) on Sunday, October 16, I heard a variety of callers. The topic, as I understood it, was a combination of why this is happening now, have we arrived, and how more gender equality can be encouraged.

Some callers talked about everything under the sun except the topic of the day, and the host tried to delicately reel them back in or wind the call down. Others seemed to have an axe to grind or a candidate/party to push. I didn’t enjoy those; phone-in shows are best when articulate callers make points that raise awareness or add a wrinkle that the listener had never before considered.

I know a little something about the radio show’s topic. At the tender age of 39 I was elected as councillor to represent a division in our rural municipality. It was a by-election with three men and me all running to fill the vacancy created when Ed Stelmach got elected to the Provincial Legislature. Did I outwork them during the campaign? Did I split the male vote and come up the middle? Was I the best candidate and the result just what the universe ordained? don’t know; I’m not going there, either.

I was the first woman elected in our division and only the second in the entire county. Neither fact has changed in the intervening years.

I do know that it was one of the best and worst experiences of my life, an education you just can’t buy. I was a wife and mother and only able to do it with the help of a flexible husband and supportive parents. This many years later, Roy is serving in the same role. Everything and nothing has changed.

So aside from what I brought to the position, what made this possible? Thanks to one caller I now know that October 18 marks Persons Day. It denotes the 1929 decision by the British Privy Council (after the appeal was dismissed by the Canadian Supreme Court) that recognized women as persons. All Canadian women owe a debt of gratitude to the ?Famous Five?: Emily Murphy, Nellie McClung, Irene Parlby, Louise McKinney, and Henrietta Muir Edwards. They fought the good fight, for all of us, for years.

Five brave souls persevered. Talk radio revived the discussion. And all of us have the chance every day to continue to provide leadership, mentorship, and inspiration for this cause or any other that floats our boat. More importantly, It’s our duty, from where I sit.

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