The Women are Coming
What a day it was. Monday May 11, 1970.
Thirty-five women, with chains hidden in their purses, infiltrated the public galleries of the House of Commons. They shackled themselves to their chairs. During Question Period, they started to shout. The business of parliament came to a halt. It was the culmination of what became known as the Abortion Caravan, a defiant country wide trek aimed at putting the issue of abortion access on the national agenda.It called to mind some of the more audacious tactics of the suffragettes more than fifty years earlier - in the first wave of feminism. But this was very much a "second wave" event, in which abortion on demand symbolized a fight for women's autonomy on every front.
What happened on Parliament Hill that Monday afternoon 40 years ago was one of the most remarkable and successful pieces of civil disobedience in Canadian history.
It never should have worked. There were no cell phones, there was no e-mail back then. But this was a time when the young believed they could change the world.
A handful of women in Vancouver started planning on Valentine's day. Seventeen of them set out from Vancouver in March in a yellow Oldsmobile convertible, a Volkswagen bus and a pick up truck. They gathered women as they went. And they rolled into Ottawa on Mothers Day Weekend. On the Saturday, a thousand women rallied on the Hill. On Monday they shut down Parliament. Forty years later, the impact is still with us.
This documentary by Karin Wells is called, The Women Are Coming.
Here is a photo gallery of the characters and scenes from the documentary: