From our classrooms to our dinner tables to elected office

By Heather Smith
February 17, 2017

The massive mobilization of millions of women around the globe on January 21 was a remarkable protest on the heels of the inauguration of U.S. President Donald Trump. Thousands of Canadian women also joined the marches in solidarity in a show of force across generations. Media reports showed women of all ages marching together against the hateful and misogynistic comments made by Trump during his campaign. This event was described by one woman in New Jersey as a symbolic passing of the torch to the younger generation, who has to be active to protect the rights that we have fought for. "It feels like everything we have worked toward, and all that suffragettes worked toward — so we could vote and be successful — is threatened now."

“We, as teachers, leaders and believers in social justice and democracy, must push back against this Trump movement of regression.”

We, as teachers, leaders and believers in social justice and democracy, must push back against this Trump movement of regression. Every action matters — from our classrooms to our dinner tables to elected office.

In a few weeks, I’ll be taking part in Daughters of the Vote, a historic event to mark a century of women’s suffrage on Canada’s 150th anniversary. I will join some 40 teacher leaders nominated by Member organizations to work as teacher facilitators alongside the 338 young women, aged 18 to 23, who have been selected to represent every federal riding. The organization behind this historic event is Equal Voice, a national, bilingual, multi-partisan organization dedicated to electing more women to all levels of political office in Canada. The Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF) is proud to have been collaborating with Equal Voice over the past year and will continue to do so during the event taking place March 6 to 8 in Ottawa. One of the highlights will be the historic seating of the Daughters in the House of Commons on March 8, International Women’s Day. The Right Honourable Kim Campbell, Canada’s first and only woman prime minister, and national political party leaders will address the Daughters who will be seated in their own riding’s seat in the House.

CTF and Member organizations continue to be staunch supporters of democracy and women’s rights. As you may recall, Agnes MacPhail, the first woman elected as a federal Member of Parliament, was a teacher whose leadership and vision have paved the way for other women to follow in her footsteps. But we still have a long way to go until women are fully represented at every level of government, be it municipal, provincial/territorial or federal.

Dear 20 year old me, Daughters of the vote

A sincere thank you to CTF Member organizations for their generous contributions towards the hotel accommodation costs of the Daughters during their stay in Ottawa. Thanks to their contributions, $35,400 in total was raised.

In addition, I wish to thank Member organizations for nominating and sponsoring exceptional teacher leaders who will act as mentors, group leaders and facilitators with the Daughters in Ottawa.

Since most of these Daughters are former students educated in the Canadian public education system, it will be meaningful and symbolic to have the teacher leaders accompany the Daughters at the threshold of their political lives. It is our hope that these young women heed the advice that present women politicians express in this promotional video.

As the Equal Voice slogan says: “Be Her. Support Her. Celebrate Her.”

Follow the events on Twitter and Facebook #DaughtersoftheVote

Heather Smith is the President of the Canadian Teachers’ Federation from July 2015 to July 2017.

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Perspectives web magazine is published by the Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF), a national alliance of provincial and territorial teacher organizations that represent over 273,000 elementary and secondary school teachers across Canada.

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