150+ Canadians Day 149: Thérèse Casgrain

Thérèse Casgrain contributed to peace by campaigning for women’s rights in Québec. #Canada150

Thérèse Casgrain (1896 – 1981) was a humanist, reformer, activist, and feminist who fought against social, economic, and political injustices. She campaigned for the right of women in vote in Québec elections, a right which was finally won in 1940.

After the Second World War, she left the Liberal party to join the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation, and then became leader of the party’s Québec wing, the first woman elected to lead a political party in Canada. She ran in several elections, using the campaigns as a way to argue for improvements in government policies on unemployment, health care, education, and housing.

In the 1960s she founded the Québec chapter of the Voice of Women, speaking out against nuclear weapons. She also founded the League for Human Rights and the Fédération des femmes du Québec.

She was named to the Canadian senate in 1970 and had to retire after 9 months having reached the mandatory retirement age.

The Thérèse Casgrain Foundation, established after her death in 1982, supports initiatives that allow women to change society.

“A world in which men and women are completely equal is still far from being realized. All my life, I have recommended that one must ask questions, take a position, and act upon it.”  

Thérèse Casgrain in her autobiography, 1972

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