Timeline

Feminist organizing from the 1970s to the 1990s brought substantial change to the social, political, economic, and cultural landscape of Canada. Rise Up’s goal is to build a timeline of significant moments, contributions, and turning points of this era. We would particularly like to capture those events that reflect the activism documented on this website.

We have started with a very few items to give you an idea of what we plan to do. We will be adding many more in the the weeks to come. We encourage you to let us know about other highlights that should be part of this herstory.

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Help us add to this timeline. Let us know the date and event you'd like to suggest for the timeline.




1960

“Status Indian” women (and men) get the right to vote federally

1960

On July 1, 1960, women and men identified as Status Indians under the Indian Act are granted the right to vote in federal elections without losing their treaty status. In 1867 Status Indians were given the right to vote on condition that they gave up their status. The decision to…

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1965

Ontario Federation of Labour sets up its first women’s committee.

1965

In 1965 the Ontario Federation of Labour establishes its first women’s committee, chaired by Grace Hartman, then a Vice-President of Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) and, later the National President. Hartman also serves as President of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women in 1974-75.  The committee…

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1966

Committee for the Equality of Women in Canada formed

1966

Representatives from 32 women’s groups formed the Committee for the Equality of Women in Canada (CEWC) on May 3, 1966, to lobby for a royal commission on the status of women. Laura Sabia, President of the Canadian Federation of University Women, organized a meeting of representatives from 32 women’s groups….

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1966

British Columbia introduces maternity leave.

1966

British Columbia led the way for new mothers when they introduced the Maternity Protection Act of 1966 giving women rights to maternity leave. In 1970 the rest of Canada followed when maternity leave was granted as part of the Canada Labour Code.

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1968

Mary Two-Axe Earley makes submission to the Royal Commission on the Status of Women

1968

Mary Two-Axe Earley makes submission to the Royal Commission on the Status of Women

In 1968 Mary Two-Axe Earley made a submission to the Royal Commission on the Status of Women protesting the Indian Act and advocating for gender equality. Mary was born on the Kanawake Mohawk territory near Montreal but lost her status when she married a non-status man. However, under the Act,…

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1970

Report of The Royal Commission on the Status of Women released

1970

Report of The Royal Commission on the Status of Women released

The Royal Commission on the Status of Women in Canada was established in February 1967 by the Pearson Liberal government in response to pressure from national women’s groups, especially the Committee on Equality for Women (1966-1971). Its mandate was “to inquire and report upon the status of women in Canada,…

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1970

Protest! Abortion Caravan to Ottawa

1970

Protest! Abortion Caravan to Ottawa

First national protest against the abortion laws calls for their repeal. In April – May 1970 the Vancouver Women’s Caucus organizes the Abortion Caravan, the first national feminist protest. Women travel over 3,000 miles from Vancouver to Ottawa, gathering numbers as they go. In Ottawa, the Abortion Caravan, now 500…

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1970

Morgentaler charged with conspiracy to commit abortion

1970

Dr Henry Morgentaler’s Montreal office is raided by the police and he is charged with conspiracy to perform an abortion in June 1970. Between 1970 and 1975, Dr. Morgentaler receives more than 10 criminal charges. In November 1973, a Montreal jury of 11 men and one woman acquit Morgentaler. In…

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1970

First! Canadian Women’s Liberation Movement Conference

1970

The first cross-country conference of the emerging feminist movement in Canada takes place in Saskatoon on November 20-21, 1970 with over 200 women attending. The conference is organized to discuss the way forward for the Canadian women’s liberation movement. Marlene Dixon is a keynote speaker.

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1972

SORWUC formed to organise women workers

1972

SORWUC formed to organise women workers

The Service, Office and Retail Workers Union of Canada (SORWUC), a feminist union, is formed to organize workers in women-dominated occupations that were often not represented by unions at that time. It was designed to be membership driven and had considerable success in the first 5 or 6 years, especially…

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1973

Supreme Court Rules Against Irene Murdoch in Family Property Case

1973

Irene Murdoch goes to court arguing that as a farm woman, in a divorce, she should be entitled to financial recognition of her contribution to the farm economy. In 1973, The Supreme Court rules that the farm belongs to her husband. Married women were entitled to support during marriage and…

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1975

First! Rosemary Brown runs for leadership of the New Democratic Party

1975

Rosemary Brown challenges barriers when she becomes  the first woman and the first Black person to contest the leadership of a national political party. First elected in 1972 as a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) in British Columbia, Brown runs a  strong campaign to head the federal  New Democratic…

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1975

International Women’s Year

1975

The United Nations designates 1975 as International Women’s Year (Resolution No. 3275 of the General Assembly of the United Nations) to “promote equality between men and women” and to emphasize “women’s responsibility and important role in economic, social and cultural development at the national, regional and international levels” of society….

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1976

United Nations Proclaims Declaration on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women

1976

On 7 November 1976, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopts Resolution 2263(XXII): Declaration on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. Article 1 of the Declaration states: Discrimination against women, denying or limiting as it does their equality of rights with men, is fundamentally unjust and constitutes an offence against…

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1977

Sandra Lovelace appeals against the injustice of Canada’s Indian Act

1977

Sandra Lovelace, an aboriginal woman from Tobique Reserve in New Brunswick, appeals to the United Nations Human Rights Commission in 1977 against the injustice of Canada’s Indian Act which gave native status through the male head of the household. Lovelace lost her Native status when she married a white man….

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1978

Take Back the Night March

1978

The first Take Back the Night Marches are organized in cities across the country to protest rape and other forms of sexual violence against women and to reclaim the streets. The Vancouver march in 1978  was organized by an ad hoc group known as the “Fly-by-Night” collective on unceded Coast…

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1978

Wives Supporting the INCO Strikers, September 1978- June 1979

1978

Wives Supporting the INCO Strikers, September 1978- June 1979

As part of a bitter eight and a half month long strike (15 September 1978 – 7 June 1979) by United Steelworkers Local 6500 at INCO, women in the Sudbury community organise Wives Supporting the Strike. They build support around the country that brings together unions and feminist groups. Wives…

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1979

First! Bi-national Lesbian Conference in Toronto

1979

First! Bi-national Lesbian Conference in Toronto

Members of the Lesbian Organization of Toronto (LOOT) organize the first Bi-National Lesbians Conference/Conférence Lesbienne Bi-Nationale. The conference goals include providing an opportunity to exchange experiences and ideas, share culture, develop a common direction, and form a communication network to strengthen the movement across the country.

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1980

Unemployment Insurance recognises fisher women’s work

1980

Fishermen’s wives get jobless benefits as unemployment insurance is granted to an estimated 10,000 women working with their husbands. In 1980, the federal unemployment insurance (UI) program recognizes that many women work with their husbands in the fisheries, contributing to total family income, and they become eligible for UI payments…

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1981

Section 28 adopted into draft of The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

1981

Section 28 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms states the following: “Notwithstanding anything in this Charter, the rights and freedoms referred to in it are guaranteed equally to male and female persons.” In February 1981, the Canadian Advisory Council on the Status of Women (CACSW) planned a conference…

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1982

Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care starts to organize

1982

In the spring of 1981, groups concerned about child care start to develop a strategy to get more government funding and action for day care. The Ontario Federation of Labour and Action Day Care hold public forums across Ontario which results in the formation of an ongoing coalition in 1982 made…

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1984

The term “employment equity” is coined

1984

The term “employment equity” is coined

The Royal Commission on Equality in Employment chaired by Judge Rosalie Abella coined the term “employment equity” (as opposed to the controversial term “affirmative action”). The Report recognized four social groups who were historically discriminated against in the paid labour force by rules and practices developed for white, able-bodied male…

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1985

Sister Vision Black Women and Women of Colour Press Founded

1985

Sister Vision Black Women and Women of Colour Press is established by Stephanie Martin and Makeda Silvera in 1985. The Press publishes books by and for women of colour, focusing on women’s oral history, creative writing, children and young people, and theory and research on the political and social lives…

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1986

First! June Veecock becomes Human Rights Director at Ontario Federation of Labour

1986

First!  June Veecock becomes Human Rights Director at Ontario Federation of Labour

June Veecock, an anti-racism activist and Human Rights advocate, was the first woman from a racialized community to work for a central labour organization in a senior position when she became Director of Human Rights for the Ontario Federation of Labour in 1986. As Director of Human Rights she was…

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1986

First! Shirley Carr elected president of the Canadian Labour Congress

1986

Shirley Carr was elected as the the first woman president of the Canadian Labour Congress in 1986. Carr became active as a member of CUPE Local 133 in Niagara and in 1969, became general vice-president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). She was elected to the position of…

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1986

Federal government passes equal pay legislation

1986

Federal government passed equal pay for work of equal value legislation for all workers under its jurisdiction.

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1987

Ontario passes “The Pay Equity Act”

1987

In 1987, the Ontario government passed The Pay Equity Act, the first legislation in Canada providing for equal pay for work of equal value. This law followed ten years of extensive organizing and advocacy by the Equal Pay Coalition of Ontario.  The Coalition was formed in 1976 by feminists active…

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1987

Victory! Sexual harassment in workplace recognised as sexual discrimination

1987

The Supreme Court states that sexual harassment is a form of sexual discrimination and employers who tolerated it would be held responsible. One of the most important legal cases is Robichaud v Canada (Treasury Board), [1987] 2 S.C.R. 84 where the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that sexual harassment in…

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1988

First! Indigenous woman elected to House of Commons

1988

Ethel Blondin, a member of the Dene nation, is elected in 1988 and becomes the first Native woman elected to sit in the House of Commons. Blondin serves as Secretary of State, then as Minister of State for Children and Youth, in the Liberal government of Prime Ministers Jean Chretien…

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1988

Victory! Supreme Court declares abortion law unconstitutional

1988

Victory! Supreme Court declares abortion law unconstitutional

On January 28, 1988, the Supreme Court hands down its ruling in R. v. Morgentaler. In a 5-2 decision, the Supreme Court finds that the federal abortion law is unconstitutional, as it violates Section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms by infringing on a woman’s right to life,…

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1989

The Montreal Massacre

1989

The Montreal Massacre

On December 6, 1989, a man murdered 14 women and injured 10 other women and four men. He entered a classroom in L’Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal, separated the women and men and, claiming he was “fighting feminism”, he called the women “a bunch of feminists” and shot all nine women,…

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