We Started at Home:
Although much of the Women’s Institute influence in local communities is attributed to the early years of the province, we are still active in addressing issues as they arise.
Agriculture and Energy Issues:
We have opposed such proposals as the construction of the Site C Dam on the Peace River because of its impact on agricultural land. In cooperation with the BC Federation of Agriculture, we examined a host of energy proposals and voiced opinions to the Government of the day.
Member’s of Shirley Women’s Institute spoke not only for themselves, but also for the provincial membership when they urged the Federal Government to stop the oil tankers from plying the West Coast, moving oil from Alaska to Washington State.
Free Trade Seminar:
It was the Women’s Institute who organized an information seminar on the Free Trade issue, seeking to provide the local population with speakers in the know to give informed positions and advise where it would take Canada and our economy.
In the Peace River District, a small group of dedicated Women’s Institute Member’s decided to do something for the community to mark International Women’s Year, 1975. After calling a community meeting to hear suggestions of what could/should be done, work began on bringing better Mental Health services to the Northern third of British Columbia. It was not achieved easily or quickly – but the benefits of that decision are still being felt.
Safety of Food:
The Women’s Institutes began on an issue of safe foods. We believe food grown closer to home, without the presumed “benefit” of heavy fertilizer use, or the application of growth hormones to be the best for all people and especially children. If that food is grown within our own community and reaches your dinner table in a day or less, so much better! We do not believe in genetically engineered foods, use of bovine growth hormones or moving food from California or points further South, if we can produce them here in British Columbia.
So, What Are We Doing Now?
Today the Women’s Institute continues to address the issues closest to the hearts and needs of our communities. We stand opposed to the construction of the Site C Dam on the Peace River – why? Because the sacrifice of any agricultural land in these times we feel is a grave error. This is not just any land, but class 1 soil, which is a rarity in Northern British Columbia. This soil will be needed, if not today, then most certainly in the future, to produce food for British Columbians. Add to the Class 1 soil a unique micro-climate, and you have a small pocket of land capable of the production of tomatoes, corn, cucumbers, beans and other tender vegetables which cannot be produced in many other areas of Northern British Columbia.
Also, we are petitioning our Governments to recognize water as a finite resource. Lives of humans, animals, plants, all depend on the availability of quantities of fresh, potable water. Therefore a balance must be set as to how much of our fresh water may be used for industrial requirements, and all of it must be used sparingly for the lives of our grandchildren and other future generations that depend on it.
We stand opposed to off-shore drilling for oil and gas in British Columbia waters. Watching the problems with the gushing oil in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 should be enough to convince everyone of us that we do not want to experience such an event in our coastal waters.
Do you agree? Then join us, for fun, achievement and the ability to influence our future!
The above article was submitted by Ruth Fenner – A member of the Somenos Women’s Institute
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