We’ve always been bold. Now we’re G O L D.
I am so excited to begin our 50th Anniversary Celebrations! On January 31, 1972, the Calgary Birth Control Association was registered as a non-profit in Alberta, and then a Canadian Registered Charity. The organization was formed as a social movement was unfolding. It was a world where women were gaining reproductive freedoms, and it was an exciting time in the feminist movement. Ms. Magazine began regular publication, and in Canada the National Action Committee on the Status of Women was formed. At the same time, the gay rights movement emerged as homosexuality was decriminalized. The Stonewall Riots were the catalyst and pride marches and the fight for equal rights began.
The story below is about how we began. A dedicated and visionary group of volunteers came together and formed the Calgary Birth Control Association to ensure that women had support and information regarding their reproductive health, and they were deeply committed to a mission of health promotion and community education. This is still the foundation of Centre for Sexuality, and I am incredibly proud that our work has grown from these strong feminist roots planted fifty years ago.
Today, our work remains grounded in choice and equity through programs like Relationships and Sexual Health Education, through our community engagement work with diverse individuals and communities including 2SLGBTQ+, immigrant and newcomer, older adults, and people with disabilities, and through our training centre which provides capacity building opportunities to professionals from many sectors to better equip them to integrate healthy sexuality policy and practice into their work and workplace culture.
I am grateful for every single volunteer, employee, supporter, funder, donor and community partner that has joined us in this work over the decades, helping us tackle tough issues with bold determination. Thank you. In the 20 years I have been at the Centre I have had the privilege to connect with so many people who have impacted the organization, including founders and life-long supporters. When they describe their involvement with the organization, they use words like action, change and social justice. Connection has been a key theme of our organization since 1972 – creating opportunities to connect around issues, creating connections that build community, and connecting like-minded individuals like you who become friends and allies for life. The Centre has always been about people – your passions formed our beginnings, pointed us in the direction of our present, and will continue to shape our bold vision for an inclusive future.
This year, we’re celebrating five decades of educating and advocating in Calgary and beyond, and I invite you to join us. We’ll be sharing the milestones, the turning points, and the exciting, important, and sometimes shocking stories that make up 50 years of progress and highlighting the trailblazers who brought us here today.
Please share this newsletter with friends, follow us on social media, and join us in celebrating our big, bold birthday year!
President & CEO
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1972: How It Started
In 1967, Pierre Trudeau, then Minister of Justice, proclaimed: “The state has no business in the bedrooms of the Nation”. The Criminal Law Amendment Act passed in 1969, partially legalizing abortion when the physical and mental health of the woman was at risk; it also legalized birth control and decriminalized homosexuality.
As new laws came into effect, obtaining an abortion was challenging. Pro-choice advocates realized that a place was needed for women to get non-judgmental information and counselling on abortion, so in 1970 a group of feminists joined forces to create a referral service called the Calgary Abortion Information Centre. This group of women, all with diverse ideas, beliefs, and life experiences, came together with the idea of respect for women’s life and their ability to make choices about their own bodies.
Many of the 400 clients that contacted the Centre the first year told the counsellor they had never talked to anyone about birth control. The volunteers soon realized a broader mandate was necessary, the Centre also needed to address the importance of birth control and the strong need for education in the community. In April of 1971, 28 volunteers gathered to discuss the possibilities for the future based on their experience. In response to this new direction, the group agreed to change its name and in January 1972 the Calgary Birth Control Association was founded.
We have come a long way in 50 years, but we also know there is still work to be done, and we need your help. Give today to contribute to the next five decades of advocacy, education and training!