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Voice of Women

Founded in Toronto on June 10, 1960, the national Voice of Women (VOW) began as the response of women trying to find a peaceful solution to the growing worldwide nuclear threat. VOW’s first Saskatchewan branch was established in Regina on February 1961: as the first VOW chapter in the province, it would play an important role in founding other chapters and a provincial umbrella organization. The Regina Voice of Women was formed through the efforts of women like Mary E.P. (Betty) Henderson, chief librarian at Regina College. Early members included prominent names from the political left wing: Irma Douglas, wife of T.C. Douglas; Victoria Lloyd, wife of Woodrow S. Lloyd; and Ann Blakeney, wife of Allan Blakeney.

The escalation of the Cold War and the advent of the women’s movement brought a sharper focus to VOW’s activities. It was vocal during the 1963 debate over bringing nuclear weapons into Canada; as well, in 1964 the Regina Voice of Women held its first vigil at the Suffield, Alberta, Experimental Station, opposing research into chemical weapons. Anti-Vietnam activities became a focal point, and the Saskatchewan VOW’s efforts included writing letters and taking part in protests; it also campaigned against sale of war-related toys. Reflecting VOW’s involvement in the women’s movement; the Saskatchewan VOW presented a brief to the Royal Commission on the Status of Women.

The Saskatchewan VOW’s membership (like that of the national VOW) decreased during the late 1960s. In 1971, national reorganization occurred and VOW became less broadly based, focusing upon campaigning for specific issues related to women and children. Although VOW still exists, the Saskatchewan VOW disbanded in the late 1980s.

Maryanne Cotcher

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Further Reading

Ball, C. 1994. “The History of the Voice of Women/La Voix des Femmes: The Early Years.” PhD dissertation, University of Toronto; Macpherson, K. 1987. “Persistent Voices: Twenty-Five Years with Voice of Women,” Atlantis 12 (2): 60–71.
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