Women in the Canadian Military

3 FIRST WORLD WAR Nursing Sisters Mowat, McNichol, and Guilbride (Department of National Defense/ Library and Archives Canada/PA-007350). ACTIVITY #1 OVERVIEW: WOMEN IN THE MILITARY THROUGH THE YEARS MODIFICATION What kind of imagery, messaging, or slogans were used to help mobilize women? What kind of roles were women encouraged to take on? Conduct research to create a propaganda poster to enlist the help of Canadian women during the war effort. ADDITIONAL RESOURCES History of the Armed Forces in Canada Women in the Military ------------------------------------------------ 1. Read the article Canadian Women and War on The Canadian Encyclopedia, and watch LCol (retired) Susan Beharriell’s presentation on women in the Canadian military. Conduct a class discussion, considering the following questions: • What were some of the different roles women took on in the military throughout the 20th century? • In what ways did women taking on jobs traditionally held by men challenge gender roles since joining the forces? During the First World War, women were allowed to join the Canadian Forces for the first time (they had been permitted to enlist with the British Army during the South African War). Women largely took on more traditional roles, and did not actively fight on the front lines. They were involved as nurses, drivers, volunteers, and in taking over the breadwinner roles of their absent spouses on farms and in factories. The First World War also served as a tool to advance women’s rights – women gradually won the right to vote in provincial elections beginning in 1916, and the federal vote in 1918. Of the women who served in the First World War, 2,845 were nurses who served with officer rank in the Canadian Army Medical Corps. They were often called “Nursing Sisters,” likely referring to a time when nursing was provided by churches. Despite the name, which would be used to identify them until the end of the Second World War, not all the nurses belonged to a religious order. Nursing Sisters treated and cared for injured soldiers overseas and in Canada. • What challenges did service women face above and beyond those faced by men? 2. Choose one of the following questions to research, and write an essay exploring the topic: • Why were women mobilized? What effect did this mobilization have on the forces and in various conflicts, both on the home front and overseas? • How did joining the Canadian Armed Forces change women’s rights and expectations in society? ACTIVITY #2 NURSING DURING THE FIRST WORLD WAR Watch the Nursing Sisters Heritage Minute and read the Edith Monture and Indigenous Peoples and the First World War articles on The Canadian Encyclopedia, as well as Ida Ferguson’s Memory Project Archive testimony. 1. Answer the following questions in point form: • Who were the Nursing Sisters and why were they important to the war effort? What do you think would have happened if they were not on the front lines during the war? • What are some of the barriers to entry that Edith Monture faced as an Indigenous woman? What does this reveal about the circumstances that women and Indigenous people faced at this time? • In what ways were Edith and Ida’s experiences similar? How did they differ? • How did the Nursing Sisters’ contributions to the war effort influence the public’s perception of women serving in the military? 2. In small groups, share your responses, and discuss changes in society for women that came about because of the First World War. ADDITIONAL RESOURCES Canadian Army Medical Corps Nursing Sisters Collection: First World War Nursing Sisters ----------------------