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Rise up!

A digital archive of feminist activism offers short films on feminist history

Please join us for the virtual launch of a new collection:
Compelled to Act: Histories of Women’s Activism in Western Canada

Date Time: Oct 20, 2020 6:00 PM Winnipeg 5:00 PM Saskatchewan and AlbertA

Compelled to Act Book Cover

Editors Sarah Carter and Nanci Langford will be joined by some of the contributors: Stephanie Bangarth, Cynthia Loch-Drake, Allyson Stevenson, Cheryl Troupe, and Carol Williams.

More information about Zoom links will be posted here soon.

To order a copy go to:

Sarah Carter wins 2020 Killam Prize

First ever at the University of Alberta


Sarah Carter wins 2020 Killam Prize

When Sarah Carter was a university student in Saskatchewan in the 1970s, she, like others of her generation, wondered why western Canadian history texts were so often exclusionary, ignoring certain populations, particularly women and Indigenous peoples, while favouring conventional, male-dominated narratives.

Summer jobs at Fort Walsh and Fort Battleford made her even more determined to learn about the history of the prairies where she was born and raised,but Carter was advised that if she was intent on becoming a serious history student, she should forget about ‘local’ history, considered “parochial” at best, and look elsewhere for inspiration.

Advice, she says, that made her dig in her heels and persevere all the more.

Four decades later, the professor and Henry Marshall Tory Chair in the Department of History and Classics and the Faculty of Native Studies has transformed our knowledge of Western Canada’s past, placing Indigenous people and gender relations at the centre of this history, reshaping our understanding of Canada as a settler nation.

Today, the Canada Council for the Arts awarded Carter the 2020 Killam Prize in the Humanities, one of Canada’s most prestigious research awards. The Killam Prize is awarded annually to Canadian scholars who have made a substantial and distinguished contribution, over a significant period, to scholarly research in Canada.

“I am honoured, delighted and grateful,” says Carter of the Killam Prize, the first to be awarded in the Humanities at the University of Alberta.

“We are so fortunate to have the Killam Trusts’ support for the humanities,” she says. “Now more than ever, we need to teach people to be critical, independent thinkers.”

Carter joined the University of Alberta in 2006 following a 14 year teaching career at the University of Calgary. Prior to this, she taught at the University of Winnipeg and the University of Manitoba. She credits her early education in the public schools of Saskatoon and at the universities of Saskatchewan and Manitoba for teaching her how to think, to be curious about the world, and to write.

“Far from alone” in her academic journey, Carter has drawn inspiration throughout her career from a “community of supportive mentors colleagues, friends, family, creative thinkers in Canada and beyond”, as well as from trailblazers like Métis historian Olive Dickason who, among others, were at the forefront of what she calls the “new social history, or history from the bottom up.”

The core of her research, she says, interrogates the colonial roots of inequality and discrimination in Western Canada, namely, whose interests do these inequities serve, how and why did they become so deeply embedded and so durable in social, cultural and economic life, and how these colonial histories continue to shape the present.

This research has generated numerous books, journal articles and other publications, including her most recent book, Imperial Plots: Women, Land, and the Spadework of British Colonialism on the Canadian Prairies, which examines how women were deliberately excluded from acquiring homestead land during the development of the Canadian West. It won the Governor General’s History Award for Scholarly Research (the Sir John A Macdonald Award) in 2017, among many other accolades.

Earlier publications include Lost Harvests: Prairie Indian Reserve Farmers and Government Policies, which explores how government policies acted to undermine the success of Indigenous farming; and The Importance of Being Monogamous: Marriage and Nation-Building in Western Canada, which looks at how the monogamous model of marriage was imposed on the diverse peoples of the prairies.

Recently, her research figured prominently in the final report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (Reclaiming Power and Place, v. 1a) in a chapter on colonization as gendered oppression.

Carter’s contributions to the creation of a richer and far more expansive settler-Indigenous history have been recognized with many honours and awards, including a Killam Research Fellowship, three Social Sciences and Humanities Council Fellowships, and three Canadian Historical Association’s Clio Prizes, beginning with Lost Harvests. In 2007, she was elected to the Division of the Academy of Arts and Humanities of the Royal Society of Canada.

In confronting Canada’s often troubling history and mythologies, Carter’s groundbreaking research offers a reconsideration of what it means to be “Canadian”, illuminating racial, class and gender divides that are far from resolved. As novelist William Faulkner noted, the past is never dead. It's not even past.

“So many legacies of the colonial past have proven tenacious, remaining active forces in shaping our lives, including those who have been privileged as well as those who continue to be marginalized,” says Carter. “We need an educated public to understand such critical foundations as the Indigenous treaties as agreements to share the land and resources, and we need to deeply engage with the past to understand the inequities of the present and the path forward.”

Upcoming Writing Workshop

Finding the Unique in Memoir: Telling Your Story, Your Way.

February 8th and 9th 2020.

When Caterina and I welcome students to our Finding the Unique in Memoir: Telling Your Story, Your Way, we can’t give you a simple recipe. Why not? Because:

  • Every life is different
  • Every memoir has its own focus
  • Memoir describes – and contemplates – events, philosophies, actions, and individuals as they have appeared only in your life
  • Some of those events will be familiar to readers, while others may provoke new understandings
  • How often have you finished reading a memoir and then wondered about the memoirist’s post-book life?

Our workshops can provide you with the tools you’ll need to tell your story, to let your readers experience the flavour of the mixture, the texture of the pastry, the scent of the ingredients.

Register online at The writing workshop will be held in Edmonton; fee is $295.00 for two days: location, pre-workshop assignment, and workshop details will be provided following registration.

History and Classics, University of Alberta Presents: "Working Women Unite! Feminist Unions and Labour Organizations in Western Canada, 1970-1990"

November 21st 2019.

Presented by: Dr. Julia Smith
When: November 27, 2019 from 12-1pm
Where: Tory Building 2-48

Abstract: Although the term “women’s movement” is often used to describe feminist activity, in reality distinct differences exist between the people and groups who engage in feminist activism. This talk will examine the feminist unions and labour organizations that women in Western Canada established in the 1970s and 1980s to address gender inequality at work and in society. These groups represented a range of political perspectives and used different tools and strategies to achieve their aims. Nevertheless, they had a common goal of eliminating sex-based disadvantages and a shared belief that women needed to use their power as workers to address the inequality they faced as women. Together, they made significant contributions to struggles to reduce gender inequality at work, in the labour movement, and in Canadian society.

Biography: Julia Smith is a Banting Fellow and Honorary Grant Notley Memorial Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Sociology at the University of Alberta. She studies the political economy of labour relations in Canada and the history and politics of women's labour activism.

Women’s history award at Heritage Fair

May 24th 2019.

Womens History Award at the Heriage Fair

The Alberta Women's Memory Project Award, in recognition of outstanding research in the field of women's history was awarded at the Galt Museum’s Heritage Fair to Courtenay Shampaign and Preslee Losey, standing in front of their project titled “Great Canadian Women Throughout History.”

New Courses

February 19th 2019.

Finding the Unique in Memoir: Writing Your Story Your Way, Saturday and Sunday, March 16 & 17, 2019, in Edmonton. Finding the Unique in Scenes & Settings: Showing More, Telling Less, Wednesday, March 27, 2019 in Edmonton. For more information contact Jean at or Caterina at or check out our website and register online at

Student & Academic Services for The Alberta Women's Memory Project - Last Updated November 25, 2020


Alberta Women's Memory Project