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Mother's Day - Second Sunday in May

What is it?

Days to honour mothers take place in many countries and in diverse ways. Some of the earliest were observed in ancient Greece and Rome.

In North America, the idea was picked up by Julia Ward Howe, an abolitionist and social activist.  In turn, she was influenced by an idea championed by a young Appalachian woman whose daughter eventually lobbied to have the day formally recognized as a national day in 1907.  Canada and other countries adopted the idea in 1909.

Julia Ward Howe conceived of Mother’s Day as a “day of peace” and activism against war, rather than the consumer-driven event that we often see now.  She urged women to unite in solidarity to end all war.  Here is an excerpt from her Mother’s Day Proclamation of 1870.

“From the bosom of the devastated Earth a voice goes up with our own.
It says: "Disarm! Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice."
Blood does not wipe out dishonour, nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil at the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel.

Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace.”

Women in Ontario can still connect to these words in our fight to end violence against all women and their children.

What can I do? 

Make Mother’s Day in Ontario a day to join with other women to advocate for:

  • Enforcement of Employment Standards and legislation to eliminate exploitive labour practices that force women, especially immigrant women, women of colour and Aboriginal women to work several low-paid, part-time and contract jobs to raise their children
  • An  increase in the social assistance rates—both Ontario Works and the Ontario Disabilities Support Program
  • Mandatory training and accountability to end discrimination against lesbians, low-income women and women with disabilities in family law custody and access decisions
  • More effective response within child welfare to hold abusers, not mothers, accountable for child exposure to violence against women

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