They worked for more than 20 years to earn the right to vote!! It is election day in Canada. Here in Quebec City I’ve learned about an amazing trio who dedicated themselves to securing the right to vote for Quebec women. Did you know that although Canadian women earned the right to vote federally in 1918 it wasn’t till 22 years later that women in Quebec got the right to vote in provincial elections? These equal voting privileges became a reality in Quebec because of the dedication of Therese Casgrain, Idola St. Jean and Marie Lacoste Gérin-Lajoie.A statue on the grounds of the Quebec Legislature honors these determined women. They repeatedly organized marches in Quebec City to gain recognition for their cause. Each year they managed to find a politician willing to sponsor a bill in the Quebec legislature granting women the right to vote. It took fourteen such bills before they were finally successful.
In 1982 a Thérèse Casgrain Volunteer Award was established in recognition of Thérèse Casgrain’s tireless efforts to gain equality for Quebec women. Prime Minister Stephen Harper discontinued this award in 2010.
The statue of suffragettes in Quebec City reminds me of the Famous Five sculpture on the grounds of the Manitoba Legislature which recognizes Henrietta Edwards, Emily Murphy, Irene Parlby, Louise McKinney and Nellie McClung who took their fight to have women recognized as people in Canada all the way to the British Privy Council. It is because of them that there are female candidates running for office in the election today.
If you are thinking you don’t have time to vote today, or you think it won’t matter anyway, or you just can’t be bothered, think of the Quebec women who wanted to vote so badly they persevered and fought for 22 years. Please vote today out of respect for a democratic privilege many people have worked so hard to earn, and none of us should take for granted.
An updated version of this post can be found here.