Canadian Federation of University Women Nanaimo members Wendy Smiley, left, CFUW-Nanaimo president Karen Skarpnes, storyteller Margaret Murphy, and CFUW-Nanaimo members Jeri Manley and club treasurer Kathy Torhjelm gather in recognition of the club’s 75th anniversary. (Photo submitted)

Canadian Federation of University Women Nanaimo members Wendy Smiley, left, CFUW-Nanaimo president Karen Skarpnes, storyteller Margaret Murphy, and CFUW-Nanaimo members Jeri Manley and club treasurer Kathy Torhjelm gather in recognition of the club’s 75th anniversary. (Photo submitted)

Nanaimo chapter of Canadian Federation of University Women celebrates 75th anniversary

Group gathered via Zoom earlier this month to recall its history in the area

Members of the Canadian Federation of University Women Nanaimo have been holding meetings for 75 years, and were able to acknowledge a milestone anniversary even in COVID-19 times.

The club held its 75th anniversary celebration via Zoom on Oct. 17, with storyteller Margaret Murphy presenting some of the highlights of the group’s history.

“She skillfully captured the spirit and resilience of members as they have responded to community concerns with action plans and projects since 1945,” noted a press release from the club.

CFUW-Nanaimo says it has been challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic, but has “responded well” and maintained strong membership numbers. The club issued extra summer newsletters and groups of members “found ways to meet, either virtually, or in back yards and parks [and] as winter approaches, hardy members plan to meet in garages and carports.”

READ ALSO: Nanaimo woman leads delegation to United Nations meeting

Historical information provided by the club shows that the first meeting of what was then called the University Women’s Club of Nanaimo was held in April 1945, with 13 invitees. Marjorie Neave was elected the first president, and membership dues were $4.

Club historians recall that in the early 1960s, the women worked for the institution of kindergartens and the establishment of a community college and licensed daycare centres. By the late ’60s and early ’70s, “women were concerned with their legal rights, their position in the economy, sex role stereotyping and bias in employment,” the CFUW-Nanaimo notes. “Club directories began to show members’ first names and surnames rather than ‘Mrs.,’ a topic of mixed views at the time.”

In 1975 the club’s status of women study group looked at girls’ physical education at Nanaimo schools and worked over the ensuing years to examine and propose alternatives. In 1982, club members responded to a provincial government report on gender and math/science instruction and worked to form an advisory committee to investigate and develop programs to encourage girls and women to continue math and science studies and pursue careers in those fields.

The club adopted the CFUW-Nanaimo name in the early 2000s to reflect its provincial and national affiliations, and soon after, it “adopted a set of priorities to guide its operations, adopted the national theme of action, advocacy and education,” it notes.

The club has advocated on many issues with local, provincial and federal government representatives and has had a very active status of women and human rights committee for several years.

To read more about the club and its history, visit

READ ALSO: Nanaimo woman honoured for more than 55 years of community service

READ ALSO: University women’s federation marks 70 years in Nanaimo

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Emergency crews were called to a semi-truck crash along the Trans-Canada Highway at Oyster Sto’Lo Road on Friday, Jan. 22. (Cole Schisler/Black Press)
Semi truck crashes off the side of the highway in Ladysmith

Driver taken to hospital as precaution after single-vehicle crash Friday

A person experiencing homelessness in downtown Nanaimo last week. (News Bulletin photo)
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Change approach to combatting homelessness

Letter writers express frustration with status quo

Environment Canada is forecasting snow for the east Vancouver Island region the weekend of Jan. 23. (Black Press file)
Up to 15 cm of snow forecast for Nanaimo area this weekend

Snow to begin Saturday night, according to Environment Canada

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the legislature, Jan. 11, 2021. (B.C. government)
Vancouver Island smashes COVID-19 high: 47 new cases in a day

Blowing past previous records, Vancouver Island is not matching B.C.s downward trend

Nanaimo City Hall. (News Bulletin file photo)
City of Nanaimo councillors like new sustainable buying policy

Finance and audit committee recommends council approve new procurement policy

Toronto Public Health nurse Lalaine Agarin sets up for mass vaccination clinic in Toronto, Jan. 17, 2021. B.C. is set to to begin its large-scale immunization program for the general public starting in April. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
B.C.’s COVID-19 mass vaccinations expected to start in April

Clinics to immunize four million people by September

The Vancouver-based SAR team successfully rescued two lost snowshoers off of the west side of Tim Jones Peak in the early morning of Monday, Jan. 19. (North Shore Rescue photo)
B.C.’s busiest SAR team raises alarm after 2021 begins with fatality, multiple rescues

‘People beyond ski resort areas of Seymour, Grouse, and Cypress go without cell reception,’ SAR warns

Police are searching for an alleged sex offender, Nicole Edwards, who they say has not returned to her Vancouver halfway house. (Police handout)
Police hunt for woman charged in ‘horrific’ assault who failed to return to Surrey halfway house

Call 911 immediately if you see alleged sex offender Nicole Edwards, police say

A screenshot from a local Instagram account video. The account appeared to be frequented by Mission students, and showed violent videos of students assaulting and bullying other students.
Parents, former students describe ‘culture of bullying’ in Mission school district

Nearly two dozen voices come forward speaking of abuse haunting the hallways in Mission, B.C.

Joe Biden, then the U.S. vice-president, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau take their seats at the start of the First Ministers and National Indigenous Leaders meeting in Ottawa, Friday, Dec. 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau, Biden to talk today as death of Keystone XL reverberates in Canada

President Joe Biden opposed the Keystone XL expansion as vice-president under Barack Obama

Prince Edward Island’s provincial flag flies on a flag pole in Ottawa, Friday July 3, 2020. A lozenge plant in Prince Edward Island has laid off 30 workers, citing an “almost non-existent” cold and cough season amid COVID-19 restrictions. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
‘Almost non-existent’ cold and cough season: P.E.I. lozenge plant lays off 30 workers

The apparent drop in winter colds across the country seems to have weakened demand for medicine and natural remedies

Robert Riley Saunders. (File)
Disgraced Kelowna social worker faces another class-action lawsuit

Zackary Alphonse claims he was not informed of resources available to him upon leaving government care

A specialized RCMP team is investigating a suspicious trailer, which might have connections to the illicit drug trade, found abandoned outside a Cache Creek motel. (Photo credit: <em>Journal</em> files)
Police probe U-Haul trailer linked to illicit drugs left outside Cache Creek motel

Hazardous materials found inside believed to be consistent with the production of illicit drugs

Premier John Horgan leaves the podium following his first press conference of the year as he comments on various questions from the media in the Press Gallery at B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, January 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interprovincial travel restrictions a no-go, Horgan says after reviewing legal options

The B.C. NDP government sought legal advice as concerns of travel continue

Most Read