Thunder Bay·Audio

New book shines light on fearless female activists in northwestern Ontario

A new book celebrates 40 "fabulous feminists" in Northwestern Ontario
PhebeAnne Wolframe is the researcher and writer of the book 40 Fabulous Feminists and Amazing Activists of northwestern Ontario. (Amy Hadley/CBC)
We'll hear about a new book celebrating some remarkable women in Northwestern Ontario.

A new book celebrates 40 "fabulous feminists" in Northwestern Ontario.

The book — created by the Northwestern Ontario Women's Centre — profiles feminists and activists who have made important contributions to the region.

The co-ordinator of the Women's Centre said the book 40 Fabulous Feminists & Amazing Activists of Northwestern Ontario has been several years in the making, and it's exciting to finally have it in print.

"It feels fabulous," Gwen O'Reilly said.
CBC Thunder Bay's Jody Porter is one of 40 women profiled in the book 40 Fabulous Feminists and Amazing Activists of Northwestern Ontario. (Jody Porter)

"We're very pleased with the way it turned out, and it's especially great that it's happened right around international women's day."

Among those on the list is CBC Thunder Bay journalist, Jody Porter. 

"It's flattering to be included," Porter said. "The names and contributions of the women in this book is remarkable."

Gwen O'Reilly is the co-ordinator of the Northwestern Ontario Women's Centre, which is behind the new book. (Heather Kitching/CBC)

The centre came up with the idea for this book to mark its 40th anniversary in 2013.

They asked people to nominate their favourite feminists and female activists, then narrowed down the list.

Inspiring stories

All the women profiled are inspirational, and the book will show readers just how influential they've been in the community, O'Reilly said.

"If you have any preconceptions about feminism or women's activism, they will be shattered, because the breadth of the work that women do is very clear," she said. "They work not just for women but for their communities." 

The book is dedicated to one of the 40 women, Margaret Phillips, who ran the Northern Woman's Bookstore — the last feminist bookstore in Canada — until she died this past fall.

"She was an inspiration to many women in this area," said O'Reilly.

PhebeAnne Wolframe, who researched the women and wrote the profiles, said she thinks this book is important because there is a rich feminist history in this region that isn't well known.

Writing the book made her proud to be part of such a strong community of women, she sait.

It took a bit of detective work to write the book, becuase some of the women had moved away or were hard to track down, Wolframe said.

But once she found them, she really enjoyed the conversations. She gathered information about the  work that went into forming important institutions in the region, and the personalities of the people behind them.

One if the most challenging aspects of writing the book was finding time to sit down with women who are still very busy and active in the community. But somehow they managed to fit in those conversations, and Wolframe said the high degree of modesty that she encountered was inspiring.

A new book celebrates some remarkable northern women. It profiles 40 "Fabulous Feminists" and activists who've made their mark on our region. (Northwestern Ontario Women's Centre)

List of women or organizations profiled in the book:

  • Alani, Taslim
  • Albizurez, Maria
  • Baril, Joan M.
  • Barrett, Millie
  • Chacaby, Ma-Nee
  • Chahal, Taina Maki
  • Collins, Carol Ann
  • Culligan, Denyse
  • Demetrakopoulos, Ana
  • Derosier, Michelle
  • Dubec, Bernice
  • Erickson, Kim
  • Harris, Gloria
  • Howard, Estella
  • Johnson, Sharon
  • Jurivee, Patricia
  • Karlstedt, Fiona
  • Kennedy, Betty
  • Kenny, Lorraine
  • Mercier, Isabelle
  • Metcalfe, Jen
  • Miller, Dusty
  • Mishenene, Rachel
  • O'Reilly, Gwen
  • Pan, Evelina
  • Peterson, Faye
  • Phillips, Margeret
  • Phoenix, Donna
  • Pierre, Marlene
  • Porter, Jody
  • Shields, Eva
  • Slomke, Karen
  • Smith, Helen
  • Tripp, Peggy
  • Untinen, Leni
  • Wakewich, Pam
  • Williamson, Sara
  • Woods, Sally Palmer
  • Zweep, Debbie
  • Women's Studies Group, Lakehead University