Margaret Laurence Women’s Studies Centre open for business

Margaret Laurence

Margaret Laurence

After 15 years of anticipation, The University of Winnipeg’s Women’s Studies program will realize a dream in the month of October – the opening of the new Margaret Laurence Women’s Studies Centre, located at 526 Sargent Avenue.

Off-campus, but not far away, the Centre is a storefront operation, making itself available to not only University of Winnipeg students, but also women in the neighbourhood around the University and in the core of Winnipeg. Its mandate: to facilitate the development of Women’s Studies in the University and the community.

“We believe in sharing knowledge, and meeting off campus may provide an environment where women outside of the academic world feel more able to share in a relationship that benefits both parties,” says Fiona Green, Coordinator of the Women’s Studies program at The University of Winnipeg. “Having a ‘storefront’ site is intended to help us in our broader vision of feminist education.”

The Margaret Laurence Women’s Studies Centre will focus on education and community in the broadest sense, rather than primarily on research, says Green.

“Students will be able to put their feminist theory into practice, or what we call praxis, through participating in the Centre and its programs,” says Green. “Hands-on experience and academic training will be united and explored through the work of the Centre.”

Named after award-winning Canadian author and University of Winnipeg alumnus, Margaret Laurence, the new Centre is funded by the Margaret Laurence Endowment, for which the Canadian Federal Government and many important University of Winnipeg volunteers raised matching funds.

Born in Neepawa, Manitoba, Laurence first started writing about women’s issues while living with her husband and two children in Somaliland. She continued to present women’s issues in her award-winning novels, including her best known works, The Stone Angel, A Jest of God, The Fire-Dwellers, and The Diviners. Laurence died in 1987.

“I think Margaret Laurence would be delighted with the Centre, especially its outreach component,” says John Hofley, Project Coordinator of the Margaret Laurence Women’s Studies Centre. “The ‘women of Manawaka’ in her books, were all strong women who experienced both sorrow and joy in their lives, as did Margaret Laurence herself.”

The Margaret Laurence Chair (MLC), established in 1987, brings feminist scholars from around the world to The University of Winnipeg and the University of Manitoba. Susan Prentice (second MLC) first envisioned the Centre, and it was an idea that was kept alive by the efforts of professor Keith Louise Fulton (first MLC and Chair of English), who is currently on medical leave.

The official opening of the Centre is slated for October 24th, 2:30-4:00 at the Centre.

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