Summerland museum shares a look back at one of BC's first women’s institutes

Celebrating women's rights

The Summerland Museum and Archives Society has shared a look back at one of the first women's institutes be established in B.C., following the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women this week.

Wednesday marked the anniversary of the murder of 14 young women at Polytechnique Montréal, which took place on Dec. 6, 1989.

"The National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women is about remembering those who have experienced gender-based violence and those who we have lost to it. It is also a time to take action," the museum said in their social media post.

In honour of all the women who have experienced any form of violence, the museum wanted to celebrate the Women's Institute, a group that for decades has advocated for women's rights.

According to the museum, a photo from Aug. 23, 1914 shows a meeting of the Women's Institute of the Okanagan District in Summerland.

"Rather ironically they are posing on the steps of the Men's Club in Lower Town."

While the museum said the first Canadian women’s institute was founded in 1897 in Saltfleet (now Stoney Creek), Ontario, the organizations work championing the improvement of the lives of women through education, family health, and community service, and lobbied for women's and children’s rights quickly caught on.

"Many women were inspired to start, or join, their local women’s institutes to improve their lives and the lives of their friends and neighbours."

The Summerland Women's Institute was inaugurated in 1909 when the population was only around 800 people. With no other women's organizations in the town at the time, it became active in educational and community work, as well as being a social hub for Summerland's women.

The Summerland Museum & Archives Society shares photos and information from their archives every week for throwback Thursday on their social media, which can be found online here.

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