P.E.I. women's group wants award named after feminist leader reinstated

Published on August 15, 2014
Therese Casgrain
Submitted photo

The Prince Edward Island Coalition for Women in Government is calling on the federal government to reinstate the Therese Casgrain Volunteer Award that was replaced in 2010 with the Prime Minister’s Volunteer Award.

“It has recently come to light that the federal government is no longer naming a national volunteer award after a Quebecoise feminist leader,” says Dawn Wilson, the coalition’s executive director.

“We have written a letter to the Prime Minister and the Department of Employment and Social Development to ask them to return to naming this award after an important historical woman leader, Therese Casgrain. Casgrain, as a volunteer, dedicated her time to ensuring women’s suffrage and promoting women’s equality.”

Casgrain’s efforts to ensure women had the opportunity to vote in her home province of Quebec extended far beyond the time other women’s suffrage advocates had seen success.

Her work continued a full generation longer, until women in Quebec got the vote in 1940, a scant 74 years ago.

“Naming an award for Therese Casgrain was an honour that showed appreciation for her lifetime efforts,” says Wilson. “It was a way of continuing her legacy. We are dismayed that this honour, which cost nothing to anyone, was taken away from her and her family. We do not think that renaming the award ‘The Prime Minister’s Volunteer Award’ increases the award’s prestige — but it certainly diminishes the national public appreciation of Therese Casgrain as an important woman leader.”