The Womanist

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The Womanist, published from September 1988 to the fall of 1993, was started by Joan Riggs and Lynne Tyler who were also partners in Catalyst Research and Communications. We worked with many exceptional women in the creation of each issue, either as staff or volunteers. Although based in Ottawa, our circulation was national and reached 10,000 copies.

We provided our mission in each paper:

“The Womanist was created to empower and enable women. We want to get back to the basics, the common ground that built the women’s movement, while celebrating our differences. What can we agree upon? That we as women are important and that we have a right to be heard, to be respected, to be trusted. As a movement, we have a responsibility to enable all voices to be heard, equally. That is our commitment in this newspaper – to empower with ideas, information and inspiration.”

We were inspired to use Alice Walker’s term ‘Womanist’ and provided her definition in each issue. We believed it offered us the opportunity to move beyond a form of feminism which, at that time, had not facilitated an inclusive voice for black women and women of colour. We were striving to have an integrated approach to feminism.

Part of our commitment to The Womanist was to offer it free. We accepted advertising and used our own personal funds through our consulting business to maintain the paper. We believed that those that could afford the paper would subscribe and we could distribute the remaining copies free. In the end, the finances did not balance out. Sadly, we closed the paper with us carrying a significant debt.

It was an honour to work with the many women who would pick up the papers at the bus station or post office and distribute it throughout their city. Our best letters were from readers who told us that they picked the paper up at the welfare office or at the laundromat. We sought to reach out to women who did not always have easy access to feminist and womanist ideas and we felt we succeeded.

For both of us, the journey of The Womanist was completely worth it. We believe we provided women with information and stories that reflected their experiences and allowed them to make choices about their lives.

Joan Riggs and Lynne Tyler

Title Date
The Womanist – Vol. 1, Issue 1 – September/October 1988 Autumn 1988
The Womanist – Vol. 1, Issue 2 – December/January 1989 Winter 1988
The Womanist – Vol. 1, Issue 3 – February/March 1989 Spring 1989
The Womanist – Vol. 1, Issue 4 – May/June 1989 Spring 1989
The Womanist – Vol. 2, Issue 1 – Fall 1989 Autumn 1989
The Womanist – Vol. 2, Issue 2 – Fall 1990 Autumn 1990
The Womanist – Vol. 2, Issue 3 – Winter 1991 Winter 1991
The Womanist – Vol. 2, Issue 4 – Summer 1991 Summer 1991
The Womanist – Vol. 3, Issue 1 – Spring 1992 Spring 1992
The Womanist – Vol. 3, Issue 2 – Fall 1992 Autumn 1992
The Womanist – Vol. 4, Issue 1 – Spring 1993 Spring 1993
The Womanist – Vol. 4, Issue 2 – Fall 1993 Autumn 1993

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The Womanist

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