Timeline

Feminist organizing from the 1970s to the 1990s brought substantial change to the social, political, economic and cultural landscape of Canada. Our 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, and 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.




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. Yet, 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 Liberal Pearson 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, and…

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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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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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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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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 “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 for women…

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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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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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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 Minister of State for Children and Youth in the Liberal government of Prime Ministers Jean Chretien and…

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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 6 December 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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