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East York people, places, events & insights

Prominent women were much in evidence at the 2017 Agnes Macphail Award ceremony

City Councillors Janet Davis and Mary Fragedakis present city scroll to 2017 award winner Rev. Jim Parker. -DARWIN BRUCE

City Councillors Janet Davis and Mary Fragedakis present city scroll to 2017 award winner Rev. Jim Parker. -DARWIN BRUCE

– By Gary Webb-Proctor –

No doubt Agnes Macphail would have been quite pleased.

The conferring of the 24th annual award named after her that took place at East York Civic Centre on Friday, March 24 may not have been to a female, but accomplished women were very much in evidence throughout.

While feminist activists will quite rightly note women are still not truly treated equally in many aspects of contemporary society, it’s also worth remembering that it has only been 96 years since Ms. Macphail made history by becoming the first woman to be elected to the Canadian Parliament, later also representing the East York area provincially. Julie Dabrusin earlug

Today, in addition to the Toronto-Danforth area being represented by female MP Julie Dabrusin, four of five East York area city council members are women, including Ward 29’s Mary Fragedakis and Janet Davis of Ward 31.

The Hon. Dr. Vivienne Poy, who gave keynote address, with photo of Macphail. -DARWIN BRUCE

The Hon. Dr. Vivienne Poy, who gave keynote address, with photo of Macphail. -DARWIN BRUCE

Fittingly, it was one of the few ever female members of the Canadian Senate, The Hon. Dr. Vivienne Poy, who delivered the keynote address at the affair, which conferred this year’s award on Baptist pastor Rev. Jim Parker.

Now retired, Ms. Poy was also the red chamber’s first member of Asian ancestry. While women were first granted the right to vote in Canadian elections in 1917, citizens of Asian origin were excluded until after WWII.

Maternal Mental Health 028In 1990 Macphail, a lifelong campaigner for human rights and a force behind passage of the first Ontario legislation mandating equal pay for women, was honoured by the issuing of a Canadian stamp bearing her likeness.

Whatever remains to be done to achieve full female equality, this event served to highlight that in public affairs women don’t need to take second place to anyone.

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