As we here at The Herald prepared to feature Nikki Spracklin from Rock Solid Builds, I had an interesting conversation with a school friend who just happened to be a female Red Seal Electrician.
My friend, Jojo Greeley, who’s been involved with many endeavours supporting women in trades in this province and is preparing to attend the Governor General’s Leadership Conference as one of this country’s emerging leaders, shared her thoughts on how far women have come, and her thoughts on the topic were interesting.
How far we’ve come
“The province and the government of Newfoundland and Labrador understood that it wasn’t up to women to break down barriers, they finally understood that they had to make space so that women could step into the jobs they had trained for and government finally created an environment where women thrived because that space was made for them,” she shared.
That got me thinking about how far we’ve come in a few generations. Newfoundland’s strategic location when it came to the schemes and plans of those involved with the war effort back in the day saw American forces bases established in several areas across the island of Newfoundland and in Labrador.
That invasion, to be coy with phrasing, resulted in a swell of American troops living temporarily on our soil. The history books tell us thousands of Newfoundland women were recruited to entertain American servicemen at dances, parties, sporting events, dinner parties, and outings organized by the United Services Organization (USO), but women during war time became more than just hostesses. There was the Newfoundland Women’s Division of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF (WD)), the Canadian Women’s Army Corp (CWAC), the Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Service (WRCNS), and within those organizations women acted as everything from cooks to mechanics.
Sign the petition
They offered clerical help, they were telephone operators and within WRCNS, Newfoundland women served overseas as nurses and nurses’ aides, plus they offered their hard-earned home-learned skills as domestic help throughout hospitals and military institutions far away from our shores. That’s not the entire story either as women – moms, wives and daughters – left back on the home front during conflict knew the affect that war had on families, households, and communities.
I happened to notice a petition circulating calling on Russian mothers, whose sons are fighting against Ukrainians, to end the war. The campaign invites women around the world to sign the petition and demand an end to the Russian aggression against Ukraine. The hope is by appealing to Russian women – mostly mothers of soldiers – it will unite women everywhere.
“Women know best what it means to start, carry and give birth to a new life, that is why they are the ones who should cease being silent and at least try to stop this bloody massacre of innocent people, including children,” wrote one campaign organizer. Russian mothers greatly influenced the outcome of the Chechnya war, and now there’s a call for their unity once again, the petition notes continued.
As the mother of a son in the Canadian Air Force who’s headed to the region on a military Navy ship, I wholeheartedly support the notion, but as my old school chum has pointed out, it’s not that easy.
Everyone has a role to play in peace and in war times and it’s up to the masses to do their part for the betterment of all. Yes, the hand that rocks the cradle is crucial, and women can be anything they dream of, but until we unite to make this globe a safe, kind space, it’s one tough uphill battle for all.
Pam Pardy, The Herald’s Managing Editor, can be reached by emailing pghen