Western's Caucus on Women's Issues

Fall l-2001 Newsletter

Women's Caucus Fall General Meeting: Wednesday, September 19 2001 4pm, UC 225. Please join us!

Message from the President
Caucus Members' Activities
Caucus Members - your dues are due
This Newsletter


Greetings from Caucus President, Tracy Isaacs

Welcome to a new academic year, everyone. We've got a wonderful executive with a good balance of newcomers and veterans. Samantha Brennan, Marta Dyczok, Gloria Leckie, Kelly Olson, and Romayne Smith-Fullerton have all joined us this year. Sylvia Burrow, Margaret Kellow, Letitia Meynell, Stephanie MacLeod, and Andrea Purvis are all continuing. I'm happy to take my turn as President with such a strong group of women to work with! It helps to make the task of living up to the standards of my illustrious predecessors slightly less daunting.

Over the past few years, my involvement in caucus has been one of my most positive experiences at Western. It's a way of being connected to the community of women on campus, of feeling as if it's possible to make a difference, and of participating in the process of change. This year, caucus will continue to have a voice on the President's Standing Committee on the Safety of Women on Campus and on the President's Standing Committee on Employment Equity. We're continuing our brown bag lunch series, and welcome suggestions (or volunteers) for speakers/topics of interest to our membership. We're also stepping up our efforts to recruit new members, bring back former members who have been on hiatus, reach more women from the staff association and from PMA, and meet with other campus groups representing women.

Our Fall General Meeting is on September 19 in University College room 225 at 4 p.m. This year, the business meeting begins promptly at 4 p.m. and ends at 4:15 p.m. Beginning at 4:15 p.m., a number of speakers from different campus women's groups will tell us about their groups' activities. Their presentations will be followed at 4:45 p.m. by a reception. Membership renewals are due now, and you'll have an opportunity to renew at the meeting. I hope to see you there, and please, bring along a friend or colleague (or two or three. . .). There is strength in numbers!

I look forward to seeing you on the 19th.

Best wishes for 2001-2002.

Tracy Isaacs


1. The Centre for Women's Studies and Feminist Research has a new Director. Dr. Alison Lee, a former member of the Caucus Executive and Associate professor in the English Department, accepted the job this past July. The Centre was established in 1987, and is jointly sponsored by the Faculties of Arts and Social Sciences.

Alison has been a member of Western's English Department since 1988. Having published two books on postmodernism and one on Angela Carter, her most recent interests are focused on the cultural aspects of the British women's suffrage movement, particularly suffrage fiction. She is currently preparing a new edition of Gertrude Colmore's "Suffragette Sally"(1911) for Broadview Press. This documentary novel "details the militant campaign of the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) against the political establishment of the time, giving arguments for and against militancy." Colmore also "addresses changing perceptions of women's bodies and sexualities" and details the violence endured by imprisoned suffragettes. Hopefully, Alison will still be able to find the time to pursue this fascinating area of study in her new administrative role.

Although she is still learning the ropes, Alison's vision for the Centre during her five year term is beginning to take shape. She thinks that the new undergraduate program, which will bring major/minor degrees to Western, provides an exciting opportunity for Women's Studies to grow. The interdisciplinary nature of Women's Studies has already fostered strong ties to many different departments across campus. Women's Studies is well placed to capitalize on these relationships and offer courses that complement these departments' major degree requirements.

Alison is also excited by the prospect of promoting the 'feminist research' part of the Centre for Women's Studies and Feminist Research. The first steps toward this are already being taken with the initiation of a program of Gender and Society Workshops. The brainchild of Dr. Kelly Olson, these workshops are intended to encourage the cross-fertilization of ideas about sexuality and gender issues. The first workshop is already being planned: Dr. James Miller will present "The Nessus Factor: Why Gay Men Cannot give Blood in Canada." This talk is tentatively scheduled for the latter part of October.

2. Western has received a $125,000 grant to be directed to the Research Facility for Gay and Lesbian Studies from the Counselling Foundation of Canada. The Foundation, a private family foundation, connected with the Lawson family of Toronto, has past connections to UWO, having provided the initial grant for the Student Development Centre in UCC. This new grant is to be directed toward part of a larger project on gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered (GLBT) family issues with an emphasis on practical support and counselling.

The UWO part of the project will focus on collecting and creating academic resources which will be put to work by their partner in this project, the Lesbigay Family Network. The Network is associated with the David Kelly program, a group of out GLBT social workers, therapists and counsellors working for Toronto's Family Services Association. The Lesbigay Family Network will be working to meet the immediate counselling needs of GLBT families and developing new programs to improve the quality of GLBT counselling across Canada. While they are concerned to meet the needs of GLBT families in metropolitan centres like Toronto, they will also be developing programs and resources aimed at families in smaller, more conservative centres (like London), which may not enjoy the support of a large and well-organized queer community. The Lesbigay Family Network's grant totals $200,000, making the total grant for the entire project $325,000.

Western's contribution to the project is divided into three parts. The first is already underway, thanks to the arrival of the first installment of the grant last April. They are acquiring books, videos and journals to create a resource centre, the Family Pride Collection, on GLBT issues and have hired a librarian, Anna Chiaramonte, to manage the collection. The second part is the Parenting with Pride website, designed to give GLBT families quick and easy access to basic information and resources in an accessible style and format. The site will be designed to maximize accessibility and relevance to non-academics while maintaining academic standards. In particular, it will contain a registry of all GLBT associations for families, an annotated bibliography of the Family Pride Collection and a glossary of terms related to sexuality and family. Also, it will be searchable by various categories of sexuality, relationship, region and issue. So, if you are a transgendered, grandmother in Yellowknife wondering about how to come out to your grandchildren you'll be able to design your search specifically to fit your situation. If there are no entries that match your search, then you'll be invited to write about your own experiences, so as to provide something for the next transgendered grandmother from the NWT with coming out concerns. The third part of the project will be to evaluate the programs developed by the Lesbigay Family Network.

Dr. James Miller is coordinator of the UWO project and participated in the search for and appointment of Rachel Epstein as coordinator of the Lesbigay Family Network. She is a sociologist at York University who has published on GLBT family issues and runs Dykes with Tykes, a support group for lesbian mothers in Toronto. James is extremely pleased with this partnership and thinks that having a gay father and a lesbian mother as the co-coordinators of the project is an ideal situation.

Caucus Members' Actvities

Dr. Monda Halpern, in the Department of History, has just published "And On That Farm He Had a Wife: Ontario Farm Women and Feminism, 1900-1970" (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2001). Monda's book argues that Ontario farm women were indeed feminist, and that this feminism was more progressive than their conservative image has suggested.


Two years ago the Women's Caucus instituted a policy whereby all membership renewals would come due each September. This has greatly facilitated the administration of Caucus finances and the membership list. September has come and so all members who wish to renew their membership need to do so now. You may either send a cheque to the Caucus treasurer, Stephanie Macleod in Education FEB 1001 or (better yet) join us at the Fall General Meeting (Wednesday, 19 September at 4:00 pm in UC225) and pay Stephanie then.

New Caucus Members

Anyone employed either part-time or full-time by the university or its affiliates is eligible for membership. The current membership includes staff, graduate students and faculty members representing most academic and non-academic departments.

Membership fees are annual and the Caucus membership year begins in September each year. If you would like to join the Caucus or have let your Caucus membership lapse, here are the fees for membership:

Graduate student $5.00
Modest income $10.00
Regular member $20.00
Sustaining member $30.00
Charter member $50.00

The membership fees are used to support Caucus programmes and special initiatives, such as student awards and Caucus events.

If you have questions or would like to join, please contact Andrea Purvis , Membership Co-ordinator Department of Philosophy.


If you have comments or concerns regarding the format or the content of the Women's Caucus Newsletter, please feel free to contact me, Letitia Meynell.

Newsletter html file created and posted on the web by Sylvia Burrow with the help of website manager Samantha Brennan.


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