Servicewomen’s Salute – Hommage aux Femmes Militaires began in 2017 as a citizen-led volunteer Canada 150 Campaign To Know, Honour, and Strengthen the historic and continuing contribution of former and current Canadian Armed Forces servicewomen to Canada.
The 2017 Servicewomen’s Salute fact-finding exercise behind this Legacy Campaign found significant offers of help and interest by former and current servicewomen and men, Members of Parliament and Senators, Canadian War Museum, local museums and archives, public libraries, Military Gals Facebook site Administrators, Historica Canada, Nursing Sisters Association of Canada, WRCNS Toronto branch, HMCS York and Carleton, many university researchers, Women in Defence and Security, and ‘hidden gems’ of Canadian history, archived local records and artwork located all over Canada. We found many many former and current women with hugely fascinating stories, and shared much laughter.
The fact-finding exercise also found:
- gaps in recording and accessing Canadian military women’s 132-year history;
- very rare public celebration of servicewomen’s unique historical and contemporary contributions to Canada;
- no coordination or aggregated collection of whole-of-community resources in Canada supporting former or current servicewomen’s interests, goals, and issues; and,
- no ongoing opportunity for servicewomen to share, digitally record, enjoy and benefit from their reflections and insights arising from their experiences as military members.
Also evident was rare external leadership and supporting voices in the public narrative about Canadian military women, and their service to Canada.
The Canada 150 Servicewomen’s Salute Organizing Committee ended the Canada 150 sesquicentennial year by staging the Canada 150 Servicewomen’s Salute at the Canadian War Museum honouring and recognizing Canadian Armed Forces servicewomen.
December 13, 2017 was expressly chosen because it was the centennial week of Canadian women granted full suffrage ie municipal, provincial, and national voting rights in Canada as a result of the September 20 1917 Military Voters Act.
An estimated 504 Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps Nursing Sisters serving overseas in France were therefore the first Canadian women to vote early on December 5, 1917.
Because of the September 20 1917 Military Elections Act, an additional 50O,000-plus Canadian adult women of military family members serving overseas were also allowed to vote on December 17 2017.
Upcoming 2018 Servicewomen’s Salute Activities include:
a. creation of an online, interactive SWS Search Directory of historical and contemporary resources describing Canadian military women’s history, lived experience, research, artistic expression, and artifact catalogue listings.
b. Ryerson University Media Production student team’s production of ‘Mini-docs’ and recorded interviews, plus other oral history collection, and personal narrative digital story workshops for exhibition at a December 2018 event.
c. Incorporation of a Servicewomen’s Salute Member Association to recognize and support former and current Reserve and Regular Forces servicewomen’s loyalty and contribution to Canada.