Today while listening to CBC radio I heard a story about Edra Sanders Ferguson, a woman who at 103 recently received The Order of Canada. It is the highest honour given to civilians. Ms Ferguson received this honour for the work she did on behalf of women’s rights. Born in 1907, she passed the bar in 1930, was the first female alderman of St. Thomas, was the first female president of the Children’s Aid Society and the first woman appointed to the senate of The University of Western Ontario. She was a pioneer and certainly deserving of such an honour.
You were not recognized as a trailblazer in your life. You didn’t pass the bar, or even 10th grade. The most prestigious rank you held was member of the Catholic Womans Association of Niagara Falls but no one can tell me you weren’t a pioneer in your own right. You were a single mum in a time where this was rare. Raising children alone can be challenging enough but when one of them is developmentally challenged and has a rare genetic disorder the struggle takes on a whole new meaning. But you did it. You learned to drive even though your husband didn’t want you to, a skill that became essential after he left. You studied math so you could pass the test that would allow you to become head cashier at the grocery store where you worked. I know that was a proud day for you. It allowed you a raise that helped to pay off your mortgage and give some security. You cared for your two daughters as well as your aging mother. In a time where few women worked, let alone were the sole bread-winner in a family you struggled to be a good mother, a good employee and a good Catholic. And you were.
So while no one was offering you The Order of Canada or touting your achievements to the Governor General this doesn’t make you any less of a hero. While we certainly need women like Edra Sanders Ferguson we need women like you as well. Every day pioneers. Women that teach us to work hard and be the best we can be even if it is only a humble cashier, that even if our marital status is ‘single’ we are not limited or alone, and that an ability to roll with the punches is just as useful as any university degree. You were my trailblazer these and many other reasons. I can’t offer you a medal or a fancy title but I can offer you my thanks and hope that someone reads this and remembers the truly amazing woman you were.
wy, mój skromny bohater