We are saddened to learn of the passing of former Vancouver East MP and Vancity Community Foundation board member Margaret Mitchell. Margaret died on International Women's Day March 8, 2017. The Margaret Mitchell Fund for Women is a testament to her tireless efforts for social and economic justice, and will carry on her legacy for women's rights.
Born in 1925, Margaret Mitchell attended McMaster University and the University of Toronto where she obtained a Master of Social Work degree. After travelling and working for the Red Cross, Margaret married in 1957 and she and her husband returned to Canada and settled in Vancouver.
Margaret pioneered community development in various neighbourhoods including Riley Park, Hastings-Sunrise, Grandview and Strathcona. She helped organize public housing, opportunities for people on welfare and coalitions to fight freeways and build cooperative housing.
Community activism led to politics and in 1979, Margaret was elected to serve as the NDP Member of Parliament for Vancouver East. She was re-elected four times and was the critic for Immigration and Housing, Status of Women and Multiculturalism and Citizenship.
Margaret was a strong advocate for the equality of women. Her demands for government action to stop domestic violence became a national concern when male MP's laughed as she addressed the issue in Parliament. She pressed to decriminalize abortion, worked with First Nations women for reinstatement under the Indian Act, worked to add Section 28 to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and pressed for a national childcare program.
The Margaret Mitchell Fund for Women was created to support programs and initiatives that promote economic and social justice for women in Vancouver East.
Priority for the allocation of monies from this Fund will be given to projects which help alleviate poverty, promote equality and help women to gain confidence and power.
In particular, the Fund will aim to support the following groups: poor women, aboriginal women, immigrant and refugee women, women with disabilities and women experiencing violence.
The Margaret Mitchell Fund for Women will give preference to those projects and programs which focus on community development and which are organized by women themselves.
The Fund is not designed to replace other funders, but rather to support innovative projects in our community.
Recipients of the Margaret Mitchell Fund for Women will be selected periodically by an Advisory Committee made up of community members. The Committee will meet from time to time to review requests and to make their recommendations for funding.