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funeral for a friend Winnipeg activists say goodbye to Status of Women Canada as she was

by Marianne Cerilli | December 11, 2006

On a balmy Friday, December 8 in Winnipeg, about 150 people – mostly women activists – held a mock funeral for the passing of Status of Women Canada's mandate and a significant part of its funding. The event was intended to rally attention to the removal of equity seeking, research, and advocacy from the project funding guidelines, and the 38% cut to the operating budget. The “funeral” was held on busy Broadway Avenue, at the Winnipeg SWC office - one of the 12 regional offices to close in April (out of the 16).

The drama of people dressed in black, carrying a coffin and tombstones echoed similar December 6 ceremonies for the 14 women gunned down in Montreal in 1989.

But Friday’s event competed for coverage with the recent real-life shooting of three police officers in Winnipeg.

Still, the television cameras were out in full force. The CBC planned a brief local story, with a longer national story for Sunday. Winnipeg’s largest daily paper was not in attendance – they were covering other things, mostly the police shooting. But when contacted, the reporter was interested.

Two women made the hour trip from Stienbach, a town in the heart of Manitoba’s Conservative Party territory. “The women who rely on crisis centres are served by the programs being put in jeopardy by these changes,” said Candace Perry. “It effects all women.” Hali Riemer added that, “Cutting offices that empower women is shameful. Although we should have seen it coming when this government got elected.”

Dini Silvera, a student from the University of Winnipeg who wants SWC’s equality mandate and the $5-million reinstated said, “This is a step backward for Canada.”

The funeral eulogy drew attention to the fact that the losses of our friend the SWC is premature given that many inequities women faced in 1971, when SWC was established, are still the reality in Canada.

The issue for many of those attending is how to make the general public aware, and concerned enough to talk with their Members of Parliament. Two Winnipeg women were questioning the funeral theme. Jennifer Haddad said, “Funerals are about permanency, and moving on. We need to send the message that we are not going to accept this attack on the Status of Women.” Jennifer Leach added, “The message we want to send is that we are re-energized and active.”

This feature was first published on’s predecessor site CoolWomen.


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