February a month to recognize the work of Women’s Institutes

In October 1933, seven women in the Cecil Lake-Erinlea area met and formed the Nor’ Pioneer Women’s Institute. They chose the name as they were the first W.I. branch in the North Peace.

The W.I. was an organization formed in 1897 by Adelaide Hunter Hoodless of Stoney Creek, Ontario.

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She had watched the men form Farmer’s Institutes discuss better ways of farming and encourage one another.

Why should women not do the same in their sphere of work?

“A nation cannot rise above the level of its homes. Therefore, we women must work and study together to raise our homes to the highest possible level.”

“For Home and Country” was the motto. The idea spread across Canada and then the world.

In honour of Adelaide Hunter Hoodless, whose birthday was February 19, we celebrate this month with special events. This year, our group collected a basket of baby items for the first girl born in Fort St. John hospital in February, Prestin Kenzie Lee.

In the 85 years since our branch was formed, many things have changed but much remains the same. We meet monthly at the hall or members’ homes. Programs may deal with topics such as agriculture, health, crafts, education, legislation, or international affairs, topped up with visiting, laughter, and food.

Projects include an annual fall supper to raise money for our emergency fund for medical travel or house fires; the Christmas Market, community games nights, catering for weddings, meetings or funerals, the Community Fall Fair in August, a community picnic, organizing the cemetery cleanup; a pen pal in Queensland, Australia; doing resolutions for government.

Together with other clubs from the North and South Peace, we get together for a Spring Convention and a Fall Rally, and it’s here we find a wider range of friends.

Together, we make donations to Children’s Hospital, provide bursaries to Northern Lights College, our provincial and federal offices, and to the Associated Country Women of the World.

So, a welcome is extended to women of all ages to join with us, For Home and Country.

To learn about women’s institutes in B.C., visit www.bcwi.ca.

— Dawn Bellamy is president of the Nor’ Pioneer Women’s Institute in Cecil Lake. 

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