International Women’s Day is officially here, and it’s time to recognize the individuals who have helped shape our lives for the better. Be it a parent or guardian, a friend, or a teacher. In BC, there are many influential women throughout history who helped pave the way for all of us in the province today, and we’re here to share a couple of their stories with you.

In honour of March 8th, here are 6 British Columbians who made history.

Sister Frances Redmond

Born in England and trained as a nurse and midwife in Montreal, Sister Frances Redmond helped found one of Vancouver’s earliest hospitals, St. Luke’s Home. Here, she instituted a school of nursing and supervised practical work, dispatching nurses to various parts of BC.

She provided nurses to Vernon and Gibson’s Landing when smallpox broke out, and took charge of Vancouver’s isolation hospital during a similar outbreak. Frances Street in Strathcona is named in her honour.

Helena Rose Gutteridge 

As an executive member of the Vancouver Trades and Labour Council from 1913 to 1921, Helena Rose Gutteridge represented female workers in male-dominated trades, helping to organize female unions. She worked primarily within the middle-class feminist movement, building bridges between feminist and labour organizations.

In 1937, she was elected the first female member of the Vancouver City Council, campaigning for a federally funded program of low-rental housing. She helped lay the foundations for a social housing movement that would help many after the Second World War.

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Sara Anne McLagan 

When Sara Anne McLagan’s husband died in 1901, she took over the Vancouver Daily World and became the first woman in Canada to own a daily newspaper. Here, she worked as managing editor, editorial writer, and as an occasional reporter.

She was also one of sixteen founding members of the Canadian Women’s Press Club, and a founding member of the British Columbia Institute of Journalists and the Local Council of Women in Vancouver.

In 1894, she founded the city’s first cultural society, the Art, Historical, and Scientific Association of Vancouver.

Doreen Reitsma 

Doreen Nettie Reitsma was the first woman from BC to enter Canada’s Royal Canadian Navy. She helped inspire Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent and his cabinet decision in 1955, which would lead to a fully integrated force for women in the RCN. This was a first in the Commonwealth, paving the way for thousands of Canadian women to come.

Anna Ethel Sprott 

Anna Ethel Sprott first moved to Vancouver in 1911 as a young widow in her thirties. After taking a course at the Sprott Shaw Business Institute, she eventually became an instructor, and later took charge of six competing schools. She opened Sprott Shaw branches in North Vancouver and Victoria, founded the first radio station west of Winnipeg, and even launched an Aviation School.

In 1949, Sprott ran for Vancouver City Council as the first female candidate to be sponsored for a council seat. She was elected on her first try, and after ten years, became the longest-serving woman in the history of the city.

Dr. Nadine Caron 

A member of the Sagamok Anishnawbek First Nation, Dr. Nadine Caron is Canada’s first female First Nations general surgeon, and current faculty member at UBC. At the university’s Faculty of Medicine, she is leading an innovative biobank project located at the University Hospital of Northern British Columbia.

The initiative will bank tissue from medical procedures to help rural and First Nations communities have more equitable access to research into diseases like colorectal, breast, and thyroid cancer.

So there you have it, BC! These are just a few of the incredible women who shaped our province over the years.