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peace activist Kay Macpherson

by Pam Harris | May 9, 1997

This is an excerpt from the book, When In Doubt, Do Both: The Times of My Life, University of Toronto Press.

In my work for peace during the last thirty years, I’ve been called a peacenik, a dupe, a dangerous radical, an impractical idealist, a subversive and lots of other things. In 1964, I was one of a group of women arrested in Paris while peacefully trying to deliver a letter to the Secretary of NATO opposing their plans for a multilateral nuclear force. In 1982, en route to New York to attend a women’s conference and the International Peace Rally, I was dumped off the bus by US border officials as an undesirable visitor. Eventually, all the press and protests forced the authorities to relent, and I was allowed in, temporarily, and depending on my good behaviour. That gave me a chance to be part of the June 12th rally where I had the experience of a lifetime speaking for Canada to a million people in Central Park.

I am convinced that cooperation, non-violence and equal rights must form the basis for future society. If we are to survive, we must move away from violence, war and the oppression of one group by another. I believe that a key element in the struggle for the life of our planet will be the participation of women in the decisions that affect us all. Women have a different perspective on things, but this understanding has seldom been used in running societies or solving international problems. Using our own experience, women must work to find new ways of stopping the current drive to self-destruction and of creating a peaceful and constructive world community.

resources for this story

  • When In Doubt, Do Both: The Times of My Life, by KAY MACPHERSON, University of Toronto Press |1994
  • To contact the Voice of Women, write or call: 761 Queen St. West, Ste. 203, Toronto, ON M6J 1G1, tel. (416) 537-9343
  • Canadian Women: A History, by ALISON PRENTICE and others, chapter 14, Harcourt Brace Canada. A brief history of the Voice of Women, told in the context of how women’s organizations in Canada grew after World War Two. | 1996, 2nd edition
  • For WILPF Canada information, e-mail: Colleen Burke at wilpftor @ or Joyce Lydiard at jlydiard @
  • For WILPF U.S. information, e-mail: Marilyn at wilpf @
  • Also see peace activist Joanne Miller at and women in arms production at
  • The National Film Board of Canada has a number of award-winning films on peace and justice, including:

    — Speaking Our Peace (#0185 017)
    — A Writer in the Nuclear Age: A Conversation with Margaret Laurence (#0185 077)
    — Nuclear Addiction: Dr. Rosalie Bertell on the Cost of Deterrence (#0186 041)
    — Russian Diary (#0189 085)

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


  • Seasonal Feature

  • April 1994: the night raid at Kingston’s Prison for Women

    by Sierra Bacquie

    There was supposed to be a new approach to the Correctional Service of Canada’s relationship to female offenders, who were promised responsible choices, respect, dignity, supportive environments, and shared responsibility. But on the night of April 26, eight women experienced humiliation, degradation, raw fear and trauma at the hands of an all-male emergency team. How did this happen? What has changed since?  read more