Telling HERstory Through Jane’s Walks

On Saturday, May 7th, over 20 people joined us for the Women’s Centre Jane’s Walk. Jane Jacobs inspired this movement of free, citizen-led walking tours, and ours was one of many Jane’s Walks that occurred over the weekend. We got together on a beautiful sunny afternoon to tell HERstory – focusing on accomplishments of Calgarian women, women’s issues in the city, and agencies and services that are working to resolve these issues.

We began our tour at the Women’s Centre – a feminist landmark if we ever saw one! There, we reflected on the tragedy of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women in Canada. Chantel inspired us by singing three Cree songs, including the Women’s Warrior Song.

Applying a Gendered Lens to Social Issues

The Women’s Centre views issues in our community through a gendered lens so that we can develop appropriate solutions. At the YWCA, Amanda told us how poverty and violence are interconnected for many women. While recognizing the need more space at emergency shelters, we also discussed prevention programs in Calgary that will help end domestic violence. Later on at City Hall, Karen outlined reasons for the current childcare crisis in Calgary, and described how the Centre is working with Calgarians to understand what a better system would look like.

Giving a Voice to HERstory

We also celebrated current and historical accomplishments made by Calgarian women. Outside the Bow Building, Carole discussed the barriers that prevent women from excelling in business and politics, and honoured local woman who did it anyway! Nancy presented Gurbinder’s research on the women of the Canadian Women’s Army Corps in WWII, including Calgary’s Mary Dover. At their statues on Steven Avenue, we thanked the Famous Five for helping to give some women the right to vote. Tove told us about the personal lives of these exceptional women, but also recognized the controversial side of their history, acknowledging that they supported eugenics at a time when it was widely popular in North America.

Celebrating Diversity in Calgary

As we walked, we developed a theme of diversity. In Chinatown, Nancy discussed historically racist Canadian immigration policies like the head tax. She also demonstrated how women in heterosexual marriages are still often slated as dependents when they immigrate to Canada, and how organizations like CIWA are here to help them. At the Family of Man statues outside the old CBE building, Robyn discussed highlights from the draft LGBTQ-inclusive policies the CBE has developed in response to new provincial guidelines.

Did You Know?

  • Indigenous women make up 16% of all female homicide victims and 11% of missing women, though Indigenous people make up 4.3% of the population of Canada.
  • Last year in Alberta over 10,000 women and children stayed at shelters and nearly twice that number were turned away for lack of space.
  • Calgary only has regulated childcare spaces for 20% of children five years of age and under.
  • Alberta has the largest pay gap in Canada; women earn 66% of what men earn for full-time, full-year jobs.
  • While some women were granted the right to vote federally in 1918, the federal franchise was only extended to Asian Canadians in 1948, and to Indigenous people in 1960.

We’re already brainstorming new ideas for next year’s walk, including sex work. Is there a part of HERstory that you would like to tell? Get in touch with Amanda at amanda@calgarywomenscentre.org and join us in our walk next year!

This post was written by Robyn Blair, a volunteer at the Women’s Centre.

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