• Stephanie O’Hanley

Vaudreuil-Dorion company receives $50,000 grant for documentary about Canadian women in politics

PHOTO BY STEPHANIE O’HANLEY

PHOTO BY STEPHANIE O'HANLEY

Sporting a hat in honour of Canadian political activist Nellie McClung, Natalie Poirier of Les Productions Kinescope explains her web documentary, which received $50,000 from the Canada 150 Fund, as Vaudreuil-Soulanges MP Peter Schiefke (middle) and Status of Women Minister Maryam Monsef (left) look on.

It all started when Natalie Poirier saw an article where Vaudreuil-Soulanges MP Peter Schiefke invited Vaudreuil-Soulanges organizations to propose projects that would get women more involved with politics. After thinking about it, Poirier, a Vaudreuil-Dorion resident and co-president of local company Les Productions Kinescope, decided a web documentary would be a great way to explore the topic.

Poirier spoke with and sought funding advice from Notre-Dame-de-L’Île-Perrot (NDIP) Mayor Danie Deschênes, one of a handful of women mayors in the MRC de Vaudreuil-Soulanges and the founder of Femmes d’ici Vaudreuil-Soulanges, a local networking group of 50 women elected officials that promotes getting women more politically involved.

“She came to me because I’m a woman in politics,” said Deschênes, who besides having political experience, also has a communications background.

During a February 23 press conference at the Marie-Uguay library in NDIP, Schiefke and federal Status of Women Minister Maryam Monsef brought happy news. “I’m proud to announce today that the Canada 150 Fund is contributing $50,000 to our very own Kinescope to help them finalize their important documentary on women in the history of Canadian politics and women in politics today,” Schiefke said.

“...We hear far less about the Mothers of our Confederation, despite the fact that we know women have been breaking down barriers to advance society in meaningful ways long before our nation’s founding,” Monsef said. As Canada celebrates its 150th anniversary, “the project we’re announcing today is an excellent example of the kinds of initiatives the federal government is so pleased to support,” she said.

Kinescope’s web documentary project, De Nellie à aujourd’hui, aims to “demystify and inspire today's young women to participate in the building of their country, while emphasizing the importance of women's role in Canadian history.” Through six bilingual video capsules featuring interviews with historians and experts, women in politics and vox-pop interviews with citizens in different parts of Canada, the web documentary will examine the place of women in Canadian political history from Canadian Confederation (the time of Nellie McClung) to today.

“I think it’s the best attended press conference in the library’s history,” Deschênes said as she introduced the event. “...I’m involved because for me, Natalie is an artist, a creator, a businesswoman. We met about six months ago and she explained her project so effectively. It’s about women, politics and a bit about how we manage a business, our responsibilities, our work, our family, but especially our community involvement.”

“I’m getting asked ‘who is this Nellie you’re referring to’,” Poirier said. “It’s Nellie, as in Nellie McClung, this woman from Manitoba, one of The Famous Five, an activist and passionate politician.” In 1927 McClung and four other women petitioned the Supreme Court to have women declared “qualified persons” who were eligible for office in the Senate. Their success meant that under the constitution women had the same rights and freedoms as men.

Besides profiles of important women from history, Poirier said she plans to ask today’s women politicians from all levels of government why they’re prepared to make huge sacrifices in their personal lives.

As for future generations, Poirier hopes the project will open people’s eyes, “so future generations, including those of my four girls… the women of tomorrow take their place in society.”

Schiefke said he’s proud to be part of the first government with a cabinet of ministers that has gender parity, one that includes ground-breaking women in their own right.