Musical theme: Feminism and labour rights go hand in hand

Photo: Gar Lunney, 1961, Library and Archives Canada

Two very important things happen each May: Mother’s Day (May 12) and International Workers’ Day (May 1).

While labour activism has always been a monumental part of Quebec life, in the 1960s women burst onto the scene by forming groups that raised awareness of women’s issues and led to demands for equality in such areas as health, wages and marriage.

According to the Canadian Encyclopedia, the Montreal Women’s Liberation Movement was founded in 1969 and the Front de liberation des femmes du Québec published their manifesto in 1970. A feminist publication, Québécois deboutte! ran from 1971-75.

Worldwide, social activism was celebrated in song. Here are our top 5, and we welcome your suggestions in the comment box below.

Bread and Roses, poem by James Oppenheim, performed by Joan Baez

We Shall Overcome, Pete Seeger

Sixteen Tons, Merle Travis, popularized by Tennessee Ernie Ford

Take This Job and Shove It, David Allan Coe, popularized by Johnny Paycheck

My Father, Judy Collins

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