British Columbia

B.C. marks 100-year milestone of limited female suffrage

The B.C. government is celebrating the 100 year anniversary of the right to vote being extended to some women. Full voting rights for all women would not happen until decades later

Asian and First Nations women were not given the right to vote until decades later

The B.C. government is celebrating the 100 year anniversary of the right to vote being extended to some women, although full voting rights for all women would not happen until decades later. 

A century ago, using petitions, speeches and marches, suffragettes argued women deserved a voice and a chance to influence their country.

"They fought for many of the same things women fight for now. They fought for public health. They fought for employment equity for women. They fought for good social assistance and had an anti-violence agenda. They also fought for the vote," said B.C. Justice Minister Suzanne Anton on CBC's The Early Edition.

Manitoba was the first province in Canada to grant suffrage in Jan. 28, 1916. Saskatchewan and Alberta followed suit later that spring.

In Sept. 1916, British Columbia held a referendum asking whether women should be allowed to vote.

"The vote was very successful," said Anton, adding it had a high turnout.

On Apr. 5, 1917, B.C. became the fourth province to grant limited suffrage to some women.

This law still excluded British Columbians of Japanese, Chinese, and South Asian descent as well as Indigenous Canadians from the vote. Asian women and men received the vote in 1948. By 1960, all Indigenous Canadians were finally allowed to vote.

"It's good to reflect on our history, to remember how difficult it was to achieve those votes and how important it is to exercise those votes," Anton said.

Anton will be marking the occasion at an event at the Vancouver Law Courts at 12:30 p.m. PT Friday — a date chosen as the mid-point between the 1916 referendum and the law coming into effect in 1917.

Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin and Federal Minister of Justice Jody Wilson-Raybould are also scheduled to attend.

With files from The Early Edition


To hear the interview, click on the link labelled B.C. celebrates centennial of suffrage