Sudbury Women’s Movement


The story of the Sudbury Women’s Liberation Movement begins in 1970 after a group of women came together for consciousness-raising sessions and self-defence courses for women. In 1971, the SWL organized a daycare centre called the Little Peoples Community Centre and also began to provide abortion referrals to women in Sudbury. By 1973, the Abortion Counselling and Referral Service (ACCRA) had been established.

The following is a brief overview of some other organizing done over the next decade as outlined in A brief history of the Sudbury Women’s Movement- 1970-1985 (Compiled by Joan Kuyek, Susan Kennedy and Mercedes Steedman):

  • In 1974-75, INCO hired a few women for blue collar jobs. One of these was Cathy Mulroy, who worked in the copper refinery. The first women working in hourly-rated production jobs at Inco were hired in 1975.
  • In 1977, a group of women met to discuss setting up a feminist women’s collective called Women Helping Women (WHW). WHW created booklets and videos based on a survey on women’s social and economic needs in Sudbury. This included Alternatives to Hysteria: A Guide to Sudbury Women in Crisis.
  • In 1978, when Steelworkers Union Local 6500 went on strike at INCO, groups of women organized into “Wives Supporting the Strike”.
  • In 1979, Sudbury feminists organized the Northern Ontario Women’s Conference, a bilingual conference bringing together women from all over Northern Ontario. The conference produced a handbook and action guide for women in the North.
  • In 1980, the WLM started to organize for a women’s centre and put out a booklet on women in Northern Ontario.
  • By 1981, there were approximately 50 women in production jobs at INCO. At this time, a Women’s Committee was formed to determine the issues and needs of these women. One important issue was the opportunity to get apprenticeships leading to higher-skilled and higher-paying jobs. A questionnaire was produced, meetings were held, and as a result of a bit of pressure and some broader union support, some changes were made that allowed a few women the chance to train as apprentices.

The Sudbury Women’s Centre opened January 1st, 1981. Its Constitution encapsulates the aims and purposes of the Sudbury Women’s Liberation Movement:

Aims and Purposes:
1) to develop an awareness through information and exchange concerning self worth, capabilities and rights as women in our society.
2) to help women deal with changes in their lives by informing them and helping them to use resources already available in the community.
3) to bring together women in our community so as to better know and respond to our needs in a collective and democratic fashion which exemplifies our mutual respect
4) to defend women’s rights where-ever they are not upheld

There is still a women’s centre open in Sudbury today.

Following the first conference in 1979, Sudbury feminists continued to be involved with organizing several more conferences for women living in Northern Ontario, beginning in the 1980s. Women from Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie, Timmins, Thunder Bay, and more created networks to discuss issues for women living in Northern Ontario. More on this can be seen on the page on Northern Ontario Feminist Organizing.

Related Issues and Actions Pages

Northern Ontario Feminist Organizing