Brigette DePape is Nellie’s Girl

Posted: June 26, 2011 in In Solidarity, Nibbling on The Empire
Tags: , ,

On June 3, 2011, when Brigette DePape, a 21-year old parliamentary page from Manitoba, pulled out a “Stop Harper” sign during the opening session of Canada’s 41st Parliament, she was escorted out of the room and quickly fired from her position.

Her solitary act of civil disobedience in resistance to the policies of the Harper government not only inspired an outpouring of support, but also called to mind another Manitoba woman, Nellie McClung. In 1912, McClung helped organize the Political Equality League and throughout the 1920s championed female suffrage and a host of measures to combat the social injustices of her time.

On June 18, 2011, a few of us took a trip over to the Manitoba Legislature to express our solidarity with Brigette DePape by bringing her message to the Nellie McClung Memorial located on the grounds of the same Legislature where Nellie won, for Canadian women, the right to vote.

  1. DB says:

    Nellie McClung, Sterilization and the return of Eugenics

    Globe and Mail references a controversy brewing in Winnipeg around Nellie McClung. There is opposition to erecting a statue honouring her role in securing the vote for women because of her prominent support of the sterilization of people with disabilities. Sterilization was one aspect of the eugenics movement. So was “selective breeding”, abortion, incarceration in institutions, exclusion from society, withholding medical care, and euthanasia.

    • Her record is mixed. To her credit, McClung campaigned for women’s suffrage, temperance, dental and medical care for school children, property rights for married women, mothers’ allowances, and factory safety legislation. Sadly, she also supported the sterilization of people considered “simple-minded.”

      The progressive aspects of her legacy have persisted and deserve recognition. The monument at the Manitoba Legislature was erected to commemorate her efforts (and those of Irene Parlby, Henrietta Muir Edwards, Emily Murphy and Louise McKinney) in winning the right of women to run for political office. It should not be misconstrued as support for her misguided views on eugenics.

      • E.D. says:

        Many (most?) middle-class, white, Protestant, “progressives” held eugenic beliefs in the early 1900s. If we eliminate these people as positive contributors to our historical evolution we will have few left! Better to recognize their contributions and acknowledge their shortcomings, too (as we should our leaders today).

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