Women Speak Fall 1983 Vol. 1 Issue 4
PROVINCIAL ADVISORY COUNCIL ON THE STATUS OF WOMEN
NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR
131 LeMarchant Road
St. John's, Newfoundland, A1C 2H3
VOLUME 1, ISSUE 4 FALL 1983
The need for women to take control over our lives was brought home to all of us in Newfoundland very clearly this past month, when the province appointed an Economic Advisory Council composed of fourteen men and one woman. The contribution women make to the economic future of our society in their work, both in the paid and unpaid labour force, has to be recognized in order to get a true understanding of how women's work is part of our economy. Apart from some notable exceptions, women are excluded from the world of business, finance, economics and politics. The public world is man's world. Since women are generally excluded from the public world, their lives and experiences are simply not taken into account when decisions are made about economic development. Basic information and research into the concerns, needs and viewpoints of women is sorely lacking. This is obvious in economic development projects that do not reflect the needs of women and families but instead reflect only the needs of the male work force and industry. Because the needs of women are invisible, they are ignored by planners and developers.
Economic development must go hand in hand with social policies and services that reflect the needs of the total community. The experience of many single-industry towns in this province is a testiment (sic) to the need for considering the social as well as the economic aspects of development.
We are tired of taking one step forward and two steps back. As women become more knowledgeable about their lives, there is no going back. That process is the first step to women taking control over their own lives. After all, it is women who are the ones who end up coping with the results and effects of development decisions usually made by men.
The first members of the Advisory Council on the Status of Women were appointed in November 1980. To provide continuity to the Council, half of the members were appointed for two years and half were appointed for three years.
The first members of the Advisory Council on the Status of Women were appointed in November 1980. To provide continuity to the Council, half of the members were appointed for two years and half were appointed for three years.
During the past year several new appointments were made to the Council to replace retiring members as their terms of office were up. All of the new appointments are for a three-year term. New Council members are: Yvonne Pelley from Labrador City, Judie Gushue from Corner Brook, Ella Pilgrim from Main Brook on the Great Northern Peninsula, Sandra Shallow from Marystown and Eleanor Mauger from Port aux Basques.
Remaining on the Council for a second term are Ann Bell of Corner Brook, President; Sheilah Drover of Springdale, Vice-President; Gwen Tremblett of Grand Falls and Rebecca Roome, Nancy Riche and Bill Collins of St. John's.
As the Council has no enforcement powers, its strength lies in the input from women across the province. Please seek out the council members nearest you and make them aware of issues that are important in your lives.
Matrimonial Property Legislation-Three Years Later
The Matrimonial Property Act, which was enacted by government as a result of a strong lobby by women's groups in the province, came into force on July 1, 1980. The primary intent of this legislation is an equal sharing of matrimonial assets on dissolution of a marriage. Has the Act lived up to its intent? Recently the provincial Department of Justice conducted an internal review of Matrimonial Property cases heard by the courts. In order to be active in the review process, the Advisory Council presented a brief to the Minister of Justice.
Overall, the Council feels that the Matrimonial Property Act has been of major benefit to women. The majority of court decisions made under the Act have resulted in an equal sharing of matrimonial assets.
We are somewhat concerned with one court decision which allowed the estate of a deceased spouse to sue the surviving spouse for a share of the matrimonial home. If this case stands as a precedent, some widows/widowers may be forced to sell their home so that the deceased partner's share can be divided for inheritors of the estate. The Council feels that the intention of the Act was that, as joint tenants, a surviving spouse would become sole owner of a matrimonial home. For this reason, we support a strengthening of the legislation in this regard. We do not favour the removal of death as a triggering factor from the Act (as has been suggested by some) as a remedy for this problem. If death were removed from the Act, a widow could find herself with less rights than if she had divorced her husband before he died.
The Council also recommended that business assets developed during a marital partnership be included with all other assets of the partnership. It is artificial to distinguish between business and other forms of investment. One family may put its resources into a business investment, while another may put their resources into a home or savings. Both families are providing for the future security of the family unit. Therefore, the Council recommended that all assets acquired by either one of the spouses during the marriage, or any increase in value of assets owned by either spouse during a marriage should be equally divided.
In the brief, the Advisory Council reiterated our recommendations on the division of pension assets. In a previous brief on pension reform, the Council recommended an equal division of pension credits on dissolution of a marriage. The Council feels that pension credits should not be subject to lump sum trade-offs. Women should not be forced into the position of considering their immediate financial needs at the expense of long-term interests.
Volunteer women's groups lobbied long and hard to correct inequalities in the division of family assets on marriage breakdown. Any change made to the Act should reflect a strengthening of the principal of equality in a marital partnership.
In his reply to the Council's submission, the Minister indicated that if any changes are proposed, the Advisory Council will have an opportunity to study the proposal to assess the impact on women.
"I always did value myself terribly, but I had to pretend I didn't."
Kirby House Officially Opened
Kirby House, a second stage house for victims of family violence from the St. John's area, was officially opened on November 7, 1983. The house provides accommodation for women and their children who are unable to find affordable housing when they leave Transition House.
The project is the first of its kind in Canada in that it operates with no other funding other than the mortgage subsidy from CMHC. It is founded on the feminist philosophy of fostering an environment of independence and self-determination.
The house is named in memory of Iris Kirby, who was known throughout the province for her work on behalf of women. The victims of family violence were of special concern to Iris. Those of us who knew her are pleased to see the second stage house named in her memory.
Women and the Law
Research is underway for the second booklet in the series Women and the Law. This booklet will deal with the legal aspects of women and violence. Jennifer Mercer has been hired by the Advisory Council to research topics such as sexual assault, wife battering, incest, pornography and prostitution. Some of the information dealing with these issues will include definitions and incidence, police response and public awareness.
It is hoped that this publication will be available in early spring from the office of the Advisory Council.
Employment in the Oil Industry
Interested in offshore employment? The first step is to register with the provincial Department of Labour and Manpower. To date, there are 11,443 men registered and only 137 women. In order to promote women's role in the oil industry and to secure training programs for offshore technology (sic), it is imperative that Newfoundland women register now.
If you are interested in registering, please write for a registration form to:
Mr. Wayne Humphries
Employment Services Officer (Petroleum)
Ms. LeeAnn Montgomery
Women's Employment Consultant
Department of Labour and Manpower
St. John's, Newfoundland
In order for you to register with us, you must meet one of the following requirements:
(a) Be born in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador;
(b) Have lived in the province for any ten (10) year period in the past;
(c) Have lived in the province for the three years prior to seeking employment;
(d) Be the son/daughter of a person meeting the above requirements;
(e) Be married to a person meeting the above requirements.
You must provide proof that you meet these requirements, such as: a Newfoundland birth certificate, and/or a letter from a credible source, such as a Doctor, Lawyer, Priest, Justice of the Peace, etc., saying that you meet the above. Any originals will be returned to you. (There are exceptions to the above for certain highly skilled and technical positions.) P.S. — As the Newfoundland and Labrador Petroleum Natural Gas Act requires that all companies involved in petroleum activities in this province are required to hire local labour where there is a skilled supply available, the registration system has been put into place to enforce this. Although you may not meet the requirements for registering with us, this does not prevent you from seeking employment although preference will be given to local labour with similar qualifications.
Divorced Wives Who Waived Rights Denied a Share of CPP
The Canada Pensions Appeals Board has decided that wives who agreed in divorce settlements to drop claims against their ex-husbands cannot now be granted a division of Canada Pension Plan credits accumulated during the marriage.
Under a scheme started by Ottawa in 1978, credits earned by one or both spouses under the CPP during a marriage can be split after divorce. To qualify, a couple must have lived together for a minimum of 36 consecutive months during the marriage and have been divorced on or after January 1, 1978. Application for division must be submitted within three years of the final divorce decree.
For example, a man who retired in 1983 and contributed to the CPP since it became mandatory in 1966 is entitled to a maximum monthly pension of $345.13. If the wife has not been in the labour force, and she qualifies for credit split, she will get half that income to which he contributed while they lived together when she reaches age 65.
The board's ruling will effect (sic) a number of applications for credit splitting of CPP. A lawyer for one of the women, who was recently denied a pension credit split by the board, says he is advising clients who draw up separation agreements to insert a clause that would allow a woman to retain her pension rights.
Many women's groups, including the Provincial Advisory Council on the Status of Women, have recommended that splitting of pension credits on divorce be mandatory and automatic. If this were done, women would not be forced into the position of trading off pension benefits for immediate financial needs.
Pornography Forum —
A Beginning for Community Action
September 19th was the date of a one-day forum on pornography, sponsored by the Advisory Council in St. John's. About seventy-five people attended, including some representatives from women's groups across the province.
The forum was preceded by an evening of films on the 18th; Not a Love Story, Killing Me Softly and excerpts from the U.S. Playboy Channel were shown.
The keynote speech was made by Maudie Barlow, President of the Canadian Coalition Against Media Pornography. Included in this presentation was a showing of excerpts from the Playboy Channel and some home video tapes. Maudie's thought-provoking address set the tone for the rest of the day.
In a panel discussion Mayor Margaret Hammond related the problem of pornography to our province. Dr. Terry Goldie spoke on pornography from the point of view of a civil libertarian, and Judie Gushue, Advisory Council member from Corner Brook, addressed pornography from a feminist perspective.
The afternoon was spent in two workshops with Dorothy Inglis, Newfoundland representative on NAC, leading a session on community action, and Robert Hyslop, Director of Crown Prosecutions, leading a workshop on pornography and the law.
The day ended with the approval of a resolution for immediate presentation to the Federation of Municipalities, and a commitment to community action.
The resolution from the forum was sent to the President of the Federation of Municipalities. Their Board of Directors agreed to place a similar resolution before the federation's annual meeting. As well, our network of lobbying by women's groups of their civic governments was effective. Due to this effort, a resolution on pornography was also proposed by a Federation of Municipalities' member from Happy Valley-Goose Bay.
Unfortunately, it appears that the municipalities are unable to regulate the sale of pornography without a change to the Municipalities Act. The Federation however, did pass the following resolution:
WHEREAS there are currently no restrictions on the display of books, magazines and
video material intended for adult consumption, and these materials are often displayed
within reach of persons of all ages in retail outlets;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that we request the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador enact legislation requiring:
(a) all retailers to restrict display of adult materials to areas not accessible to minors, and
(b) to require wholesalers to distribute adult material in tamper-proof packaging, to eliminate "browsing" in retail outlets.
A follow-up meeting to the pornography forum was held on October 6, 1983 in St. John's, and an organizing committee for community action was established. This committee has been hard at work. An awareness kit has been distributed to all the major groups in the St. John's area, and the Coalition of Citizens Against Pornography was officially formed at a public meeting in St. John's on November 24, 1983.
Community action against pornography is on its way. It is the responsibility of all of us who care about this issue to ensure that it continues effectively.
by Dorothy O'Connell
Deneau & Greenberg
Paperback, 150 pp
Near the beginning of this funny, perceptive and wise book the narrator, Tillie, has this to say about her friend Chiclet: "Over the years we've discovered that we have two things in common — a desire to make some money and a distinct disinclination to attain this goal by making other people's bathrooms sparkle." Chiclet Gomez tells the story of how Chiclet, Tillie and their sister-tenants in public housing try, often with disastrous results, to become and remain solvent.
Chiclet, an original thinker to say the least, is usually the one to dream up yet another plan to rake in the cash. The Fat Farm plan is one she's certain will succeed for, as Tillie puts it: "We had wall-to-wall fat. Fancy diets are too expensive for people in our income bracket, so she had decided the method to use was exercise, laxatives and starvation."
My own favorite Chiclet adventure is the one titled Of Agonizing and Organizing. After several attempts to find a place to hold a consciousness-raising meeting for female public housing tenants, Chiclet and her friends decide to share a session with the feminists at the local Women's Centre. After listening to the members complaining about who gets the car when and who puts the dishes in the dishwasher, the public housing women begin to talk about their own problems. "What do you do," Mrs. Grocholski asks "if your husband hits you?" "If I had a husband like that, I'd leave," says one of the Centre ladies. "I did," Chiclet's friend Linda tells her. "After my husband choked me, I left ... but Welfare told me if I would just do what my husband said, maybe he'd come back." What's going on in that chapter is not at all funny
but the way the author juxtaposes the two groups of women is hilarious. Perhaps here we have the answer to why most women's centres are made up of middle-class women.
The book moves along briskly in the same vein, dealing with all sorts of things from Chiclet's plan to get her friends and herself off to summer camp (without the kids) to problems with bad teeth and gums to the marvellous tale of the Mad Snickerer. When I first heard Dorothy O'Connell read her Chiclet stories on CBC Radio, I realized how rare it is to find firsthand accounts of people who spend their entire lives well below the poverty line. Although Mrs. O'Connell makes splendid use of humour to get her points across, the reader emerges from her book with a totally different picture of life in public housing than one ever gets from the press or open line shows. Having lived in subsidized housing herself, she knows what she's talking about.
Chiclet Gomez and it's (sic) sequel Cockeyed Optimists help us share the ups and downs of women who, despite the fact that they never have enough money and are under the constant supervision of The Authority, still manage to get a lot of enjoyment out of life. They share everything, from the communal fox fur to their heaviest problems. Dorothy O'Connell's sympathetic but by no means sentimental treatment lifts those women off the pages, straight into the reader's heart.
by Helen Porter
Reviewer's Note: Chiclet Gomez, which was published a few years ago, is probably out of print. The author would like for it to be reprinted so anyone wanting to buy the book and unable to find it in bookstores should write to Deneau and Greenberg, Suite 205, 305 Metcalf Street, Ottawa, Ontaro (sic) K2P 1Sl. Mrs. O'Connell's sequel Cockeyed Optimists, is still in print.
Transition House Opening, Corner Brook
November 15, 1983 was a time of celebration for the Committee on Family Violence in Corner Brook, which saw the realization of four years of hard work in the official opening of Transition House.
The beautiful two-storey house, consisting of six bedrooms, five bathrooms, laundry room, playroom, large living/dining area and a smaller, quiet room gives off an aura of spaciousness and brightness. Nine trained staff have been hired by the committee to provide a service for victims of family violence on the West Coast.
Marilyn Luscombe, chair-woman of the committee, officiated at the opening, with the ribbon cutting by Mary McIsaac, one of the founding members of the Corner Brook Status of Women Council. Marilyn gave a brief history of the work of the committee, highlighting research done on family violence in the Corner Brook area. Speakers for the occasion were the Honourable Haig Young, Minister of Public Works; Gilbert Pike, Deputy Minister of Social Services; Mary Lou Tiller from CMHC, and Tom Lomond from CEIC.
The Transition House has been made available through the Social Policy Program of CMHC, with a guaranteed mortgage at a rate down to 2%. The staffing of the house has been provided by a grant from Canada Community Services Program of CEIC and a grant from the provincial Department of Social Services for additional operating costs. The federal grant is on a three-year decreasing basis, and at the end of that period, the province will take over the operation of the house.
Community groups and organizations have been very generous with their support for Transition House, with $10,000.00 being donated by Bowaters, and most of the furnishings by service clubs.
Our joy with the establishment of Transition House is tampered with sadness that such a service is necessary. A walk through the house is uplifting, however, the stark reality is the bunk beds, the cribs, the children's playroom, are silent reminders of the victims of family violence.
Central Newfoundland Status of Women
As a result of action taken by members of the Central Newfoundland Status of Women Council, pornography has been removed from three drug stores and the local movie theatre has begun rating movies.
A community group has been formed with a goal of establishing a Transition House. This group has applied for federal funding to complete a feasibility study.
For information contact: Debbie Armstrong at 489-9511.
Corner Brook Status of Women
Transition House was opened in November. The establishment of the house was the result of the work of a community committee supported by a variety of community groups, particularly Corner Brook Status of Women Council. The telephone number for the Corner Brook Transition House is 634-4198.
Plans for the winter include a six-week assertiveness training program and a stop smoking clinic.
Early in January "Not A Love Story", a film about pornography will be shown. For information contact: The Women's Centre, 639-8522.
Gateway Status of Women, Port aux Basques
The Gateway Status of Women Council was successful in obtaining a grant from the Secretary of State to open a Women's Centre in that town. The group is currently in the process of cleaning and painting the Centre, and it is hoped that the official opening can be held in early December.
On Monday, November 7th, the group sponsored a public meeting on pornography. Dorothy Inglis, Newfoundland's representative on NAC was guest speaker, and in her very impressive presentation to the large audience in attendance, she emphasized that each community, no matter how small, can make its voice heard in speaking out against the proliferation of pornography.
Phyllis Walters, a member of the Board of Directors, attended a conference in Regina, sponsored by the Saskatchewan branch of NAC, and its theme was Women in the Rural Areas.
Another board member, Eleanor Mauger, was recently elected President of the NTA Special Interest Council on Women's Issues in Education. Two members of her executive are also board members. Eleanor is busily organizing several projects for her Special Interest Council.
Gander Status of Women Council
A very successful Women and Leadership Workshop was held on November 26, 1983. Resource people for the workshop included: Joanne Linzey of the Women's Program, Secretary of State; Luanne Leamon, Social Policy Advisor to the Premier; and Nancy Riche and Carmel Maloney, union representatives. This workshop included a session on Career Choices for Young Women, led by Carmel Doyle, Curriculum Consultant with a local school board, Dr. Jane Pikerskill and Constable Gail Courtney.
Tentative plans for the new year include an auction in January and a session on Assertive Training. For information contact Marie Matheson at 651-2926.
Labrador West Status of Women
Plans are well underway for the Provincial Status of Women Conference to be held in Labrador City — Wabush March 23-25, 1984. Limited funds will be available for travel assistance. For information contact: Jan Folk-Dawson, Publicity Officer, Women's Centre, Box 171, Labrador City A2V 2K5.
Plans for January and February at the Women's Centre include workshops on alcohol abuse, assertiveness training and menopause. For information contact the Women's Centre at 944-9562.
Main Brook Women's Group
Main Brook on the Great Northern Peninsula now has a women's group to deal with issues concerning the status of women. The group has begun taking an active part in lobbying the federal government and the provincial government on women's issues.
Mokami Status of Women Council
A workshop on alcohol and drug abuse was held recently with Terry Green as resource person. The purpose of the workshop was to explore the idea of forming a MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Drivers) group in the area.
Work continues on the establishment of a transition house.
For information contact the Women's Centre at 896-3484
MUN Extension - Women's Program, St. John's
Short courses on women's issues will continue during the winter. Tentatively planned: "Women and the Law", Instructor - Lois Hoegg; and "Women in the Work Force". instructor - Nancy Riche.
National Action Committee
National Film Board has allocated an extra copy of "Not A Love Story" to our province because of the demand and it is available from the St. John's office.
Your NAC representative has been working almost full time on the subject with meetings this month with employees of CMHC, Canadian Federation of University Women, Early Childhood Development Conference, CBC-TV debate to be broadcast in January on Dialogue, two radio interviews, Arts Council article, interview with Canadian Living Magazine. Trips to Corner Brook and Port aux Basques were particularly enjoyable. It is so stimulating to meet such high power women in all our centres. Corner Brook must take the prize for the most beautiful women's centre in Canada. Most impressed with the two high school class meetings in Port aux Basques. Our young people have to be brought into the discussion on pornography. It is coming at them in all directions. The public meeting at night was stimulating — good representation of community, including members of the clergy, press and local council; fantastic scenery; great hospitality.
Please let me know as soon as you know who you are sending to the March 16-19th AGM in Ottawa so that local delegates can help with the planning as I am co-chairing the conference arrangements.
For information contact Dorothy Inglis at 753-0494
Nain Women's Group
Camille Fouillard from the Women's Health Education Project has visited the group.
The Women's Centre basement is being rented by the Inuit Broadcasting Corporation to train eight people from Labrador as broadcasters.
For information call 922-2850.
Planned Parenthood staff held Menopause Workshops in Happy Valley / Goose Bay, Gander, Grand Falls and Labrador City. If you wish some information on starting your own menopause support group, the office in St. John's has a resource kit, a film and a slide-tape show which are available. There is a charge for postage and handling.
In February Planned Parenthood will be holding our annual auction. This is the main fund raising event for the year. We are looking for donations of either items or services. Start knitting a sweater now so we can auction it in February. Contact us at 579-1009 if you have anything to donate.
Women's Centre, St. John's
— Now underway each Wednesday evening (beginning November 23) an eight-week course, "Women and Society", facilitated by Barbara Doran. Fee - $15.00. This course will be offered again in the new year.
— Support group for separated and divorced women — ongoing.
— Consciousness raising group — ongoing.
— TGIF once a month, on the newsletter theme (eg. in November, Prostitution).
— March 1984 — Women's Festival. Theatre Groups, Dinners, Crafts, etc.
For further information contact Beth Lacey or Annette Clarke at the Centre, 85 Military Road, St. John's, telephone 753-0220.
Women's Health Education Project
A brief was presented to the Royal Commission on Health Care Costs on December 7. Information for the brief was compiled from a survey of women's health concerns that was conducted through consultations and community workshops. Stress was identified as a health concern of many women. Workshops on stress and dealing with teenagers were the topics most requested by those surveyed.
Field work at the project will continue throughout January and February. Work is also beginning on the developent (sic) of a resource kit for use by community groups when the project is completed.
For information call the project office at 722-6065.
January 28 - Executive Meeting, St. John's
A new executive administrator, Jennifer Perry, has been appointed. She will be starting work in the New Year.
For information contact the Women's Institute office at 753-8780.
Women's Involvement Committee, Trinity South
The Women's Involvement Committee of Trinity Bay South has published a report of their one-day forum on women and fish plant labour entitled "Trinity Bay South Women on the Move — Women Working for Women." It is a book about the past, present, and future of their committee, the issues and concerns raised at the forum, and it is also a resource guide for other groups wanting to organize such an event.
It is available for $4.95 from Amanda George, Secretary, WIN Committee, New Harbour, Trinity Bay.
Women's Studies, MUN
Mid-February — Susan Trofimenkoff will be a guest lecturer. Topic: A Feminist Biography - Therese Cosgrain.
Other seminars are scheduled throughout the term.
Contact Dr. Linda Kealey at 737-8442.
Incest: A Complicated and Increasing Social Problem
By Marilyn McCormack
The incest taboo is widely believed to be universal. In most cultures there are usually severe penalties for sexual relationships within the nuclear or extended family, with the obvious exception of relations between legally-bound husbands and wives.
Historically there have been some early exceptions to this taboo. For instance, in ancient Greece and Rome royalty often married close relatives in an effort to maintain the purity of their blood lines and retain familial wealth and power. The topic of incest in this era was referred to in several classical plays and poems. For example, the Greek tragedies of both Oedipus and Electra have incestuous unions as their central themes.
Incest is defined by most authors as ‘sexual fondling, or vaginal, anal, or oral-genital intercourse among the following relatives along either family of origin or marriage lines: parent, child, grandparent, sibling, as well as aunt or uncle.'
Despite our moral and ethical prohibition on incest, sexual encounters between various family members do occur. The sexual assault of children and adolescents is an increasingly visible social problem about which professionals are becoming aware. The increased reporting of incestuous incidents coincides with the introduction of revised legislation regarding children's rights, as well as the escalating emphasis on the individual's moral and legal responsibility to report suspected child abuse.
In addition to legislative changes, a number of reasons may account for the current dramatic increase in documented incest cases. For example, community exposure to the existence of new and specialized treatment programs generally increases the number of referrals. Further, as various professionals become more familiar with the dynamics of incest, they also become more adept at identifying families who engage in this behaviour.
An examination of the literature related to the dynamics of incestuous families reveals that there are two major types of families in which incest occurs. These are the classic incest families and the multi-problem incest families (Nakashuma and Zakus, 1980). Some families in which incest is committed fall into neither of these categories but may have characteristics common to both. In addition, since every family is different it is sometimes difficult to readily categorize a family in which incest is likely to occur.
The classic incest family is described as one whose behaviour is primarily confined within the family and within the home. On a superficial level these families appear to be quite stable and individual family members function fairly well. Communication patterns in these families are well concealed from outsiders and there is little or no acting out in the community. The classic incest families are not usually known to social agencies. The dysfunctional roles, such as the role reversal of mother and daughter, of family members are not readily noticed.
The second type of incestuous family, the multiproblem (sic) incest family, is characterized by multiple problems, such as alcoholism, marital discord, delinquency, poverty, etc. In these famlies (sic) incest is only one small aspect of the total family disorganization. With the multiproblem (sic) incest family there is much acting out in the community with many different social agencies being involved with various family members. Due to the number of problems being presented the incest is often not discovered.
The characteristics of various family members are also key elements in precipitating incestuous activities. While the fathers are generally harsh, authoritarian, and ambivalent men, who dominate and control all family members, the mothers are described as rejected and passive women, who condone the incestuous behaviour by not reacting to it. The daughters have been described as the eldest members of the family who are placed in the maternal role in the family.
Incest causes many problems for the victim. From delinquency, truancy, prostitution, psychological, and psychiatric problems to psychosomatic illnesses, victims of incest are affected immensely. The need, therefore, to address the problems of incestuous families is vastly becoming more and more prevalent.
To date there has been some attempt to evaluate an effective method of intervention, however, much of the research in this area has been done with small skewed samples in specific populations. Authors talk of individual, family, and group therapy approaches to dealing with this problem. The impact of the criminal justice system as a powerful and positive force in addressing this problem has also been highlighted. The need to develop specialized treatment programs is becoming more apparent those professionals who are identifying and working with victims of incest and their families.
Because of the paucity of specialized treatment programs for incestuous families, therapeutic intervension (sic) is often provided on an ad hoc individualized basis. Professionals working in this area, however, are hopeful that a better understanding of this behaviour will aid in the development of an effective treatment program, which will
be viewed positively by incestuous families and by those who will most likely work with them. Until such a program is developed, many people will continue to live within the confines of incestuous families fearful of exposing themselves because of the uncertainty of what disclosure will mean. (Marilyn McCormack is a social worker at the Unified Family Court in St. John's.)
Should Property Rights be Entrenched in the Canadian Constitution?
It is proposed that Section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms be amended as follows :
S.7 Everyone has the right to life, liberty, security of the person, and the enjoyment of property and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice (proposed change underlined).
This amendment was introduced in the House of Commons by a private member's bill in the spring of 1983 and was defeated. It has been passed by the legislatures of British Columbia and New Brunswick without significant discussion or comment.
How would such an amendment to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms impact on Canadian women? The general view of those who have considered the possible impact on women is that the entrenchment of property rights, at this time, is premature. Canadian women fought a hard battle to retain Section 28 of the Charter which states that the provisions of the Charter will apply equally to men and women. However, this clause is subject to interpretation in the courts. The first cases under the Charter are only beginning to be heard. Also, Section 15 of the Charter, which deals with discrimination on the basis of sex, does not come into force until 1985, and it is subject to the override clause.
Until it becomes clear how the courts will interpret certain sections of the Charter, it could be dangerous for women to agree to the entrenchment of property rights. Nobody is sure just how the entrenchment of property rights would affect women's rights; however, there is reason to believe we should be cautious.
One of the main concerns is that the amendment may jeopardize new matrimonial property rights legislation enacted in all the provinces. Statistics point out that only a small percentage of real property in this country is held by women in their own name. If property rights are entrenched in the Charter, and a narrow interpretation of property rights (as applying to real property only) is made by the courts, a woman's right to an equal share of the matrimonial home could be challenged.
Other potential challenges to existing legislation, if property rights were entrenched in the Charter, are: sole possession orders for battered wives, affirmative action programs, equal pay for work of equal value provisions, occupational health and safety legislation, and division of pension assets. Challenges made under a property rights section of the Charter may not be successful, but they will most certainly be made. Those court challenges may take five years or more to wind their way through the court system. During that period of time, the state of the existing laws that have been challenged will be uncertain.
The court process is very expensive and women have scarce resources to fully engage in the challenge.
Although the rights women now have may prevail in the end, the introduction of property rights will, for an extensive period of time, divert the energies of women to protecting existing legislation, rather than moving' forward to achieve equality under the Charter.
The introduction of property rights is believed by many people to be a motherhood issue. It is not. It sounds so good, so innocent, so non-controversial, and yet the consequences for women could be grave. Women must make sure that property rights are not entrenched before there is full debate of the issue. We cannot allow property rights to be quietly entrenched without a full inquiry into the legal consequences of such an amendment.
Many women in Newfoundland and Labrador have heard of or met Frances Laracy, but few of us are aware of all that has made up the life of this quiet, industrious women (sic).
In 1918, Frances was born to Ellen and Lawrence Hennessey of Avondale, Conception Bay. She says, "Father had a carpentry shop where the boys could work, with all the fascinating tools: power saws, lathes, and drills, but never the girls."
Frances' mother often urged her four daughters to "join the convent — everything would be perfect, and you would have no worries." While Frances kept a strong religious faith, she was bound to choose a path which would lead her into the world of commerce, family and women's organizations.
In 1934 she completed school. It was not long until she was offered a job at Kennedy's shop in Avondale. Like most shop clerks of that era, she worked a 12-hour day, 6 days a week and dreamed of opening her own shop. Frances worked in Avondale until 1937 when she married John Joseph Laracy and moved to Conception Harbour.
Between the ages of 20 and 32, Frances gave birth to six children, three boys and three girls. She was 25 when she and Jack started their own retail business in 1943.
Though it was her driving force that built J.J. Laracy's Store to what it is still today, Frances never received wages. She says it's only in the past decade that women have begun to earn pay for work with their husbands. The success of the business undoubtedly gave her the confidence to work in new directions.
Like many Newfoundland women of her generation, Frances experienced her share of tragedy, in the accidental death of her six-year-old daughter in 1949, and her husband's sudden death in 1969.
In 1967 Frances was nominated by Conception Harbour Women's Institute and then appointed to the provincial executive of Women's Institutes. She came to the organization just as it began to shed the vestiges of a colonial structure run by upper class ladies from St. John's. She was one of the pioneers of the vote for a democratic, rural-based structure, and through her persistent work with other women on the executive, a Constitution and By-Laws were drawn up.
In the winter of 1977, Frances travelled to Inuvik for a seminar sponsored by the Federated Women's Institutes of Canada. Her international experience as voting delegate to conferences of the Associated Country Women of the World in Norway (1971), Australia (1974), Kenya (1977), Hamburg (1980) and Vancouver in 1983, and the friendships she has developed with women of many countries and colours, have given Frances memories her mother would have envied. Frances knows this. She is not one to take for granted the opportunities and challenges which she has accepted. So she shares her stories with friends over the kitchen table, in meetings and in her writing.
In 1980, after serving at all levels of the organization and as provincial representative on the executive of the Federated Women's Institutes of Canada for five years, Frances was acclaimed President of the Women's Institutes of Newfoundland and Labrador.
What has been her effect on Women's Institutes in 16 years? Frances has shown us the skills of a diplomat — her ability to understand differing points of view, to find words which make everyone feel understood; to unify; to appreciate the old, but to see the value of the new; her fluid approach; her humour — all these qualities have opened the eyes and hearts of the women who have worked with her.
She has never refused to participate on boards and in conferences, even when this involved travelling in all seasons, and the stress of separating from her family during times of illness. She still serves on the board of the Women's Health Education Project, which the Women's Institute co-sponsored, as well as on her local parish council, school board and women's institute.
In her prize-winning essay on Adelaide Hoodless, the Canadian founder of the first women's institute in 1897, Frances says, "To truly imitate her, we would not get too carried away with visions of self-fulfillment or self-greatness." Frances' family and community are central to her life. She has travelled the globe, she has met the Queen, but she has not returned with over-inflated ideals. She is tempered by years of sharing in the joys and sorrows of her community.
For years, Frances had collected clippings and notes documenting Newfoundland politics, and many other topics. Though they may be buried, as she says, under a pile of other papers in the living room, she can always find what she needs. Her days and evenings are taken up with the affairs of
the shop which is managed by her son Larry and daughter-in-law Mary. It is in the small hours of the morning that Frances has her most productive hours of personal work.
As she convened the official opening of the Women's Institutes' Provincial Convention last May, few of her friends knew that Frances had postponed surgery for cancer, in order to be there. With grace and warmth, she gave a magnificent address to 200 women, which touched and humbled and made laughter and tears. Only three weeks later, she was smiling in a hospital room, surrounded by the perpetual motion of her triplet grandsons, friends from home, friends from W.I., and flowers and the promise of health.
Another fortnight, and she was in Vancouver, heading the Newfoundland and Labrador Women's Institutes delegation to the 17th Triennial Conference of the Associated Country Women of the World. When some colleagues found her up to her arms in dishes during a Newfie Night, what could they do but laugh — for that's Frances, and there's no stopping her.
by Jane Robinson
Make your plans now to attend the Provincial Status of Women Conference to be held in Labrador City March 23-25, 1983. For information contact Jan Folk-Dawson, Women's Centre, Box 171, Labrador City, Newfoundland. Telephone: (709) 944-6562.
Why not arrange a fundraising now to send extra delegates from your area.
"To break out of the traditional mold is not easy, but for the women who have, the rewards are there, and for what it is worth, the knowledge that they are trail blazers."
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MAIL TO: Provincial Advisory Council on the Status of Women 131 LeMarchant Road, St. John's, Nfld. A1C 2H3
COMES THE DAWN
After a while you learn the subtle difference
Between holding a hand and chaining a soul,
And you learn that love doesn't mean security,
And you begin to learn that kisses aren't contracts
And presents aren't promises,
And you begin to accept your defeats
With your head up and your eyes open.
With the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child,
And you learn to build all your roads
On today because tomorrow's ground
Is too uncertain for plans and futures have a way
Of falling down in midflight;
After a while you learn that even sunshine
Burns if you get too much,
So you plant your own garden and decorate
Your own soul, instead of waiting
For someone to bring you flowers.
And you learn that you really can endure...
That you really are strong
And you really do have worth.
And you learn and learn
With every goodbye you learn...
— (Author Anonymous)