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The Long Women’s March... Marked by Significant Milestones

Denise Brunelle, CND

The year 2020, chimed in the 400th anniversary of the birth of the woman known as the “Mother of the Colony”: Marguerite Bourgeoys, born in Troyes in Champagne on April 17, 1620.

From the early years of the colony named Ville-Marie, she set the tone and imprint of education adapted to the needs of the women and settlers who were already there. She welcomed the King’s Wards and passed on her knowledge and skills to them “because it was for the families.” When the children were ready to receive instruction, she opened Ville-Marie’s first school in a vacant stable. All children had unconditional access to the stable-school. History preserves traces of official documents signed by this multi-talented woman who responded to the needs of her time. She surrounded herself with women whom she called Filles séculières, secular women, and then Congréganistes, Congregationists. It is in this place that originated the first uncloistered religious community “without veil or wimple”: the Congrégation de Notre-Dame de Montréal. Still today, education in all its forms continues in Canada, the United States, Japan, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Cameroun and France.

The year 2020 also recalls the 25th anniversary of La Marche du Pain et des Roses, The March of Bread and Roses, initiated by women of our time. Bravely, we concentrated our best efforts to gathering and educating women and furthering the inspiration and pedagogical methodology of “liberating education.” At the opening of this historic moment, Hélène Pedneault, to whom we owe the March Manifesto, wrote:

We are very ambitious women.

We want nothing less than to change the heart of the world.

Those who do not want to join us because they think they have something to lose,

come and see us when the job is done.

The door will never be closed to anyone who has the ambition to make

The whole of Humanity move forward.

The year 2020, year of the pandemic, will be imprinted in the collective memory because of an infinitely small molecule which, before us, will have provoked a profound questioning of our relationship with the cosmos. This mysterious milestone will remind us of a historical turning point where we will have understood or ignored our chance to “change the heart of the world.”

Several personal and collective milestones will continue to mark our journey. Together, we have the power to move all of Humanity forward.


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