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40 Years of CFUW PQ

One of the most active members of the University of Vancouver Women’s Club was Dolly Kennedy, who served variously as president, club historian, and by 1980 Western Vice-President. Dolly knew the Oceanside area well, spending her summers in Columbia Beach, and she was instrumental in setting up CFUW PQ.

In 1980-81 Connie Beaton, Valentine Urie, Grace D’Arcy, and Dianne Spearing, from the Parksville-Qualicum area met with Dolly to set up CFUW PQ. The four women were all members of the CFUW Nanaimo club, which was established in 1945. 

Dolly Kennedy on her 90th birthday

Dolly Kennedy on her 90th birthday

1945: In the beginning…

In 1945, a CFUW was founded in Nanaimo. Four women from up-island, in the Qualicum-Parksville area joined shortly thereafter: Connie Beaton; Valentine Urie; Grace D’Arcy; and Dianne Spearing.

1980: Inaugural meeting

On May 12, 1980, 17 women university graduates from Qualicum Beach, Parksville, and Errington, including those four women, held a meeting to consider forming a club in the area. The main reason, it is reported, was that the women were tired of the long drive to meetings in Nanaimo. 

On June 09, 1980, Dolly Kennedy, a long-time member of the Vancouver Club who spent her summers in Columbia Beach met with the four CFUW Nanaimo members. Dolly was a former president and club historian, and was currently the Western Vice President charged with starting new clubs. By July 29, 1980, with the help of Billie Burgess, a member of the Alberni Valley University Club, the constitution and bylaws were written and ready to be presented to prospective members. 

The first general meeting took place on September 15, 1980. Sixteen women attended, paying annual fees of $20.00 By October, the executive had been elected: President Dianne Spearing; First Vice president Kay McCaskill; Second Vice President Connie Beaton; Secretary Sheila Berry; Treasurer Val Urie; Programme Chair Sue Channin; Publicity Chair Ingrid Panayi; and Hospitality Chair Ida Sekonhyana. 

Membership grew quickly, to 28 in November, and by April, 37 women had joined. Whilst no membership lists exist for those early meetings, names that appear in the records in addition to those noted above, are: Grace D’Arcy; Billie Burgess; Mary Emery; Eva Hilborn; Betty Kinnaird; Dolly Kennedy; and Deirdre Laforest.

CFUW PQ 1981-82 membership list

1980: Having Fun

From the beginning, the members decided that they wanted the club to be a forum for advocacy, but also for like-minded women to enjoy each other’s company, and not be solely focussed on fundraising and community work. The minutes of the May 1980 meeting state “…wanted to have as much benefit as possible with as little work as possible”. The bridge group was one of the first interest groups. Groups often meet in members homes, sharing interests, food, and often raising funds; make cultural visits to galleries, the theatre, or historic sites. Over the years there have been various book groups; the Magic Carpet Group; the Out To Lunch Group; The Jaunters Group; French Conversation; Money Management; and Civic Issues, just to name a few. Whilst some are no longer extant, others continue.

1981: Early Advocacy – The Status of Women

Even before the club was officially chartered, the members were active in advocating on Women’s Issues; in April 1981 the club joined the National Action Council on the Status of Women (NAC), and swung into action on current issues. In Ottawa, the chair of the Canadian Advisory Council on the Status of Women, Doris Anderson, had just resigned over a dispute with government minister Lloyd Axworthy, and president, Dianne Spearing wrote to Prime Minister Trudeau suggesting that the Advisory Council report directly to parliament, not via a minister. This led to a resolution on strengthening the makeup of the Advisory Council being presented later in the year by Dianne Spearing and Dolly Kennedy at CFUW National level, and subsequently adopted. This was the first of three resolutions from our club that have made their way into the National Policy book, both of the later resolutions initiated by the Peace and Security group in 1988-89.

1981: The Charter and the first AGM

On May 01, 1981, the CFUW Parksville Qualicum Club officially joined CFUW. Dolly Kennedy received the charter on behalf of the club, and the first AGM was held on May 10, 1981.

This inaugural  AGM was held in the staff room at Parksville Elementary School, with thirteen members in attendance. After reporting that the Charter had been granted and accepted, the participants were entertained by a violin concert. Subsequent AGMs typically followed the same format, of a short business meeting to elect the officials; a dinner; and then an entertainment, ranging from ghost stories to short plays or musical performances.

CFUW PQ Charter 1981

1983: The Newsletter

The newsletter was first circulated by mail, edited by Dianne Spearing and Connie Beaton. Catherine Khan took over in 2002, and now, as you know, the newsletter is edited by Barbara Bond, and pops into our email inboxes once a month.

1984: Scholarship Committee makes a start

The Ways and Means Committee published our first cookbook, entitled Vegetables Every Which Way in October 1984, aimed at raising money for a scholarship fund; and Betty Kennaird, Chairperson of the Scholarship Committee reported that as a result a tentative amount of $250.00 had been set aside; two scholarships were awarded, one in 1985, and one in 1986. It is reported that one member resigned form the club on the release of the cookbook, on the grounds that such an endeavor was beneath the dignity of ‘university educated women’! A Second cookbook Fare For All Seasons was published the following year. The Scholarship and Bursary Trust was officially formed in 1987.

1985: The Book Sale!

The first book sale took place in February 1985, again with the intent of raising funds for the scholarship fund. It was held in St Mark’s Church in Qualicum Beach, but unfortunately the event coincided with the worst snowstorm that year, and the poor attendance meant that the $250 raised mostly came from those members working at the sale who had made it through the storm. After that, the annual sale was held in October, and has raised ever-increasing amounts for the scholarship fund.

1986: Advocacy in SD69

In May 1986, Ingrid Panayi, Publicity Chairperson,  shared a letter that was sent by the club to Brian Smith the Minister of Education, advocating for the instigation of a French Immersion program in SD69.

1987: The Scholarship and Bursary Trust

Officially formed in February 1987, the first trustees appointed were Betty Kinnaird, Eva Hilborn, Val Urie, Susanne Clayton, and Grace D’Arcy. Two scholarships were awarded annually from 1987 onwards, gradually increasing over the years as the trust grows from membership fees, fundraising activities, donations, and legacies. 

1988: Education Committee formed

The first Education Committee was formed by Joan Greaves, Jenny Leary, Esther Stemp, Irene Mitchell, Margot Drummond, Bev Walls, and Eva Hilborn. In its first year, it sponsored a seminar at Kwalicum Secondary School, entitled ‘Education: A Passport to Independence’, and ran seminars and various workshops on women in poverty; staying in school; and keeping options open in choosing high school courses. Initially aimed at young women, boys were included from 2004 onwards.

1989: Low Level Test Flights over Labrador

This resolution was initially entitled ‘Innu Genocide – a Moral Issue: That the CFUW urge the Federal Government to discontinue the low-level test flights over Labrador-Quebec and withdraw its invitation to NATO to establish a high-tech fighter training facility at Goose Bay’. It was amended to include ‘…until there can be an agreement with the indigenous [Innu] people who will be most affected by these flights and this base’, and was accepted into the National Policy Book.

1989: Nurturing Global Cooperation and Mutual Trust

The initial resolution submitted by the club had two clauses. At the National AGM, the first clause, urging action by the Federal Government, was deleted, and the wording ‘to study the Brundtland Commission Report, Our Common Future’ was added.  The resolution that was accepted read:  ‘That the CFUW in co-operation with the International Federation of University Women, urges its members to study the Brundtland Commission Report, Our Common Future, and to actively promote an awareness of the global interdependence of our environment, economy, and human needs’.

1989: Girls In Science Program

The club initiated a program to encourage girls in local high schools to pursue careers in science. The plan was to sponsor a one-day workshop every two years with a focus on maths and science for students in grades nine and ten

1990: Change of Name, but not of Purpose

A motion was moved by Billie Burgess and seconded by Barbara Perry, that the name of the club be changed from ‘Parksville-Qualicum University Women’s Club’ to Canadian Federation of University Women Parksville Qualicum. The motion was obviously carried, as that is how we are known today. 

1990: Preserving our heritage

Norma Antrim, president, wrote to the Ministry of Municipal affairs urging the Ministry to preserve Craig Heritage park as a historic site

1991: encouraging girls to think outside the box

The club hosted an event for Grade 8 girls, ‘Choices Forum’, teaching girls about non-traditional roles, and encouraging them to think more broadly about their career choices.

1992: …some things never change?

In June, 1992, President Bev Walls wrote in her annual report: ’We, as women, were socialised to put everybody else first, and perhaps think of ourselves later. Therefore we expend a great deal of energy and time sustaining relationships with other people and probably neglect the most important one of all – ourselves’. …food for thought still today?

1992: further advocacy enabled for Women’s Affairs

that same year, the Womens’ Affairs Ministry awarded $5000.00 to fund workshops to combat violence against women. Early the following year, 130 people from the community gather and participate in a candlelight march to commemorate the victims of violence.

1995: ‘…a banner year’

The beautiful hand-made banner that you see at all of our meetings is truly a labour of love and a work of art. It was created in 1995 by Eva Hilborn; Elizabeth Eyre, Audrey Rutledge; and CFUW Alberni member Marianne Mclean.

1997: ‘The Gathering’

CFUW PQ hosted the Vancouver Island Gathering, a meeting of the Clubs on Vancouver Island, on March 08, International Women’s Day at Parksville’s Bayside Inn. Dr Margaret Fulton, and internationally-known educator addressed an audience of some 70 members from nine island clubs, challenging her listeners to work towards a system of sharing, co-operation, inter-dependence, integration and partnership, rather than being complicit in the distorted value system of today’s society based on ‘confrontation,competition, control and greed’. 

1998: CFUW PQ hosts the BC Council AGM

The CFUW BC Council Annual General Meeting was held at Qualicum College Inn. The theme of the AGM was ‘Carpe Diem’. More than 100 members from the 29 clubs all over the province participated, as well as invitees from Ottawa and California. Brenda Marshall, warden of the Kent Maximum Security Institution in Agassiz delivered the keynote address which was followed by a panel discussion ‘Federal Corrections’. A variety of afternoon workshops ranging from global economics; health and self-reflection; and mentoring, was followed by nature and history tours of the area, culminating in dinner and musical entertainments. 

2001: ‘Earth Day’

The Environmental Committee encouraged everyone to ‘get along without electricity’ between 7:00 – 10:00pm on June 21. Given the long daylight hours, that should not have been too difficult . 

2001: ‘Exceptional Lives’

This lecture series debuted with contributions from author Susan Musgrave; Judge Nancy Morrison; and Senator Pat Carney.

2005: National CFUW Special Project Award

The CFUW PQ Environmental Committee received a National CFUW Special Project Award in 2005, the culmination of an initiative started by the committee in 2000. Over the period 2000 to 2004, the committee devoted its energies to the timely topic of water; first researching the supply of water to homeowners, and the billing methods utilised by the suppliers. It then focussed on quality and quantity of water supply, and presented a paper to the State of Sustainability Workshop hosted by RDN. This led to a number of strategic relationships with other groups and agencies in the area (e.g. The Arrowsmith Watershed Coalition Society), and the ongoing recognition, to this day,  that The Environmental Committee is a respected and reliable source of credible information, and deserves its ‘voice at the table’.

2006: National CFUW Special Project Award

On behalf of the CFUW PQ Roberta Cole accepted a National CFUW Special Project Award at the August annual CFUW Conference in Edmonton. This was in honour of the club’s anti-bullying program, started in September 2005, and led by Kerri Isham. Eight of Ms Iaham’s students accompanied had her to the club general meeting, and outlined their thoughts and strategies on dealing with school bullying. The club members were so enthused that they asked to continue to support Ms Isham’s professional development and the workshops that she hoped to offer in SD69. 

The Education Committee and the Publicity Coordinator helped organise and host a community event in April 2006:  ‘Advocating for the Prevention of Bullying Among Teenage Girls’, with posters, and newspaper interviews with Ms Isham ahead of the event.   

2006: 25th Anniversary Celebrations

On May 07, 2006, the club celebrated 25 years since its founding in 1981, with a lunch at Fairwinds Golf Club, and 72 guests. A highlight of the celebration was an acknowledgment of six of the women who had been amongst the inaugural members and were still members in 2006: Fronia Affleck; Connie Beaton; Eva Hilborn; Dolly Kennedy; Betty Kennaird; and Deirdre Laforest. 

2007: SD69 Science Fair

3 members, Dorothy Sly, Marjorie Allen, and Carolyn Collyer volunteered as judges for the event at the Wembley Mall. 175 students participated from the elementary and middle schools in the district. 

This history summary is a work in progress and will be added to as material and time permits. Please feel free to contact our website team with additions, images, updates, recollections, or corrections. 

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