Last autumn, the five Quebec clubs within the Quebec Provincial Council decided to mandate the Council to seek group memberships with the Femmes autochtones du Québec/Quebec Native Women (FAQ/QNW) and Fédération des femmes du Québec (FFQ) as a way of creating links with other women’s groups in the province. Several of the Quebec clubs already had associative memberships in the Montreal Council of Women. Founded in 1893, the Montreal Council of Women / Le Conseil des femmes de Montréal (MCW/CFM) is a non-partisan coalition of sixty-eight organizations and approximately seventy individuals in and around Montreal working to improve conditions and quality of life for women, their families and society. The MCW conducts its business in English.
However, in a province where 80% of the population is French-speaking, and where the First Nations and Inuit populations were among the first in Canada to encounter European explorers in the 16th century, there are specific social, cultural, linguistic, historical and political realities that must be understood and embraced. Therefore, the Council of CFUW clubs has embarked on group memberships with the FAQ/QNW and FFQ on a one-year trial basis.
Quebec Native Women has been defending the rights of Aboriginal women since 1974. Knowledge and tolerance are linked and a better understanding of Aboriginal realities in Quebec will make it easier to support and advocate issues affecting Aboriginal women and their communities. QNW represents members in 56 communities and 10 nations throughout Quebec and urban areas. The QNW’s mission is to support the efforts of women in the improvement of their conditions through the promotion of non-violence, justice, equality and health; also, to support women in their involvement in their community. The organisation is bilingual. Viviane Michel was elected as the new QNW President at the Association’s AGM in October, 2012 in Wendake, Quebec. Viviane Michel is from Maliotenam (Innu nation). www.faq-qnw.org
The Fédération des femmes du Québec (FFQ) has individual members and group memberships belonging to the umbrella organisation founded in 1966 by Thérèse Casgrain. One of Quebec’s “suffragettes”, she has been honoured posthumously with three other women active in the field of women’s rights as their statues were placed near the National Assembly in Quebec City in December 2012. The FFQ had 660 individual members and 184 associations in 2012. In 2003, the FFQ adopted a “Declaration of Principles”. Its objectives are the promotion and defense of women’s rights; fighting against poverty and all forms of violence, discrimination, marginalisation and exclusion of women; attaining gender equality; working towards the adoption of measures which facilitate this; integrating women from diverse backgrounds into this battle, and developing links and solidarity with international women’s groups. The organisation operates in French only. Alexa Conradi has been their President since 2009. Status of Women Canada withdrew their funding in March 2011 so the FFQ has gone from 50% to 25% of public funding. The FFQ embarked on an “Estates General” last year to reinvent itself and the process will culminate in a “Forum” planned for November, 2013. www.ffq.qc.ca/