Raising the flag of Women's Institutes

By Miriam King, Bradford Times

“This is a year of milestones,” Bradford West Gwillimbury Mayor Rob Keffer said: The 180th Anniversary of Bond Head, 160th Anniversary of Bradford, Canada's 150th, and the 120th Anniversary of the founding of Women's Institutes, by Adelaide Hoodless in Stoney Creek, Ontario in 1897.

Now the Federated Women's Institutes of Ontario have over 3,500 members across the province, and the WI movement is active in the UK and around the world, through  the Associated Country Women of the World.

Keffer was joined by members of the Bond Head Women's Institute, which celebrates  its 95th anniversary this year, and Tec-We-Gwill WI – celebrating 70 years -  for the raising of the Women's Institute flag at the Bradford courthouse, and the Proclamation of Women's Institute Week, February 20 to 27.

“It's 120 years that Women's Institute has been part of Ontario's culture, and we're pleased to be here to raise the flag,” the Mayor said.

Women's Institutes have played an active role in providing educational opportunities and home-making skills to rural women, and advocating for social, health and safety advances, over the decades  - including the pasteurization of milk, wrappers on bread, flashing lights on schoolbuses, and the painted line down the centre of the road, dividing lanes of traffic.

Other initiatives have included the “Best Before Date” on foodstuffs, licencing and inspection of nursing homes, and reduced speed limits near schools.
Members of the Bond Head Women's Institute brought along their latest project – the Quincy Bear, Book and Blanket project,  putting together kits containing cuddly bears, to be given to children in crisis or traumatic situations, by emergency responders.

The Quincy Bear project for 2017 asks every WI branch to complete 150 of the kits for the Sesquicentennial year. The Bond Head WI has  completed 65 to date, which were handed over to the South Simcoe Police Service at the flagraising – accepted by Chief Rick Beazley with thanks.