National recognition

When I first started talking about Canada’s women’s shelter founders — some six years ago at a YWCA convention in Winnipeg — I always expressed the hope that some day they would be recognized for the phenomenal work they did.

Well, now they are.

On May 1, our women’s shelter founders will be formally recognized before the House of Commons by the federal government’s Minister for Women and Gender Equality Maryam Monsef.

The next day, there’s a lunch and panel discussion at the Ottawa Art Gallery, with Lorraine Kenaschuk (Saskatoon Interval House), Janet Currie (Ishtar Transition House) Lynn Zimmer (Toronto Interval House) and Natalie McBride (National Aboriginal Circle Against Family Violence).

And me. Can’t believe I’m invited.

I just sent a thank-you note to Fernwood Publishing for letting me tell this story.

I grew up on a diet of history books written by men about men. No knock against the Pierre Bertons and Peter C Newmans, but it is so important for the rest of society to tell their stories, too. I remember pitching this story to Fernwood in 2017, saying that it was a Canadian legacy, a part of our history, that had not yet been told.

When I look down today to see the agenda for this two days in Ottawa next month: “Honouring the Founders of the First Women’s Shelters in Canada,” my heart is full.

It ain’t history until somebody writes it. And even then, it goes nowhere until somebody agrees to publish it and send it off into the world. Runaway Wives is in bookstores across the country, in libraries, on Amazon, rated on Goodreads, translated into different languages, available as an audiobook for the blind.

Thanks to Fernwood, these women’s achievements are now history, their stories are now our stories. And we will honour them next month in the nation’s capital.

How cool is that?


En francais, mais oui

According to my publisher at Fernwood today, a Quebec-based publisher is “strongly interested” in having Runaway Wives translated into French. This would be wonderful.

The only problem is they’re asking for some context on Quebec.

It makes sense; any readers there would want to know what happened in their home province. I’d like to know myself. Unfortunately, I don’t.

My book focussed only on the first five shelters — so Toronto, Aldergrove, Calgary, Saskatoon and Vancouver — with a taste of Edmonton tossed in.  (As a proud westerner, let me just point it out yet again that four of the first five shelters began west of Saskatchewan.)

But I’d love to be translated into our other official language, and have it available for French-speaking communities across Canada. So I’m trying to figure out how to do this, and still keep the book intact.

If anyone knows anyone who was connected with the feminist movement of the 1970s in Quebec, please contact me. (Je parle un peu de francais, avec le vocabulaire d’un enfant.) Until I know what happened there, I really can’t say whether it can be woven into my narrative. But I’m definitely intrigued.