Women’s Institute Celebrates 125th Anniversary in Duncan – Lake Cowichan Gazette


85 years ago, Queen Elizabeth II’s father became King George VI. crowned.

This year marks Elizabeth II’s 70th year as Queen, and it also marks the 125th anniversary of the founding of the Women’s Institute in Canada, a community-based organization for women whose purpose is to advance women’s voices and communities.

The international organization inspires change through education and advocacy for women and communities across Canada and the world.

On June 8, members of the Somenos Women’s Institute joined institute members from the South Vancouver Island District in celebrating the unveiling of a plaque marking the Coronation Oak planted in Duncan’s McAdam Park in 2008 to mark the beginning of celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the Women’s Institutes in B.C

The tree was a seedling of a British oak from Windsor Great Park in England and was planted in 1937 to commemorate the coronation of King George VI.

“The original seedling is now a magnificent tree in Slocan, BC and members of the Slocam Women’s Institute who have cared for it for many years have provided Seedlings from it to Somenos Women’s Institute and so we are now celebrating that tree,” said Ruth Fenner, historian at Somenos Women’s Institute.

“In addition to unveiling the plaque for this tree, we are celebrating 125 years of the Women’s Institute in Canada by donating a Brandywine Maple tree, also in McAdam Park.”

Qwiyahwultuhw of the Cowichan tribes welcomed the congregation in Quw’utsun country at the unveiling of the plaque with warm words about his late mother, who did similar work to the Women’s Institute in her community.

He and his drummer partner Pamela sang the Mother Earth song.

Speaking on behalf of the Somenos Women’s Institute, Sandy McPherson said the Coronation Oak is now thriving in McAdam Park, thanks in part to a nurturing start from Sharon Jackson, a former member of the Women’s Institute and a former member of the Duncan City Council, who took maternal care to after it is planted.

“We also really appreciate the helpful staff at the City of Duncan,” she said.

Duncan Mayor Michelle Staples and Southern Vancouver Island Women’s Institute President Donna Jack also attended the unveiling of the plaque.

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