​Daughters of Glass


By Hannah Berry

"Cast off the shackles of yesterday,
Shoulder to shoulder into the fray.
Our daughter's daughters will adore us,
And they'll sing in grateful chorus,
Well done! Sister suffragettes."

I am the daughter's daughter's daughter.

As a child,
I heard this song hundreds of times
Watched the women in the whimsy of Mary Poppins march around the house with pride
Satin sashes proclaiming "Votes for women!" draped across corseted dresses
The sense of disillusionment, the true cry for justice
By Disney magic and music

September 4th, 1916
Marked the final election where the women of British Columbia would stand by in glass boxes and watch men mark white slips to fill wooden boxes

It has been 100 years.

And only 11 since nearly all Canadians, no matter race, religion, or gender
Could mark those same white slips as the British Men
Step by step,
Group by group,
We have come so far.
Yet we have so far to go.
As a woman,
I am still looking at my future through man-made glass.

But a say in how our country is run is a good running start

We are running
Hard and fast
We've been running for so long
There is so much broken glass
Our feet are cut and bleeding over roads we beat out with each painful step
We leave bloody footprints behind us
Then look up and all around to see the glass is still there
And is clouding up with our exhausted breath and the incessant hot air of those who dare fight against us
But we
We clean up our messes
We wipe down the glass ceilings and windows and walls and floors
Until they shine
So we can see our reflections and force you to look at yours
Before smashing them again
And bloody footed bloody knuckled
Run headlong into the next one
And the next
We carve our names in to the glass
With the words
"We are still here."
"We are still fighting."
"We are not done yet."

I dream of the day when the only running women do is for office.
That my daughters will know a world where the only glass ceilings are in green houses.

We take the weight of past shoulders on to our own,
See how much we can get rid of before we have to pass it on again.

September 4th, 1916
100 years since the deciding election
63% of British men agree women should have the right to vote
"Cast off the shackles of yesterday..."

April 5th, 1917
The referendum voted on the year before officially passed
"Shoulder to shoulder into the fray..."

May 24th, 1918
British women gained the Federal vote, but still with restrictions and requirements
"Our daughter's daughters will adore us, and they'll sing in grateful chorus..."

January, 1918
Mary Ellen Smith became the first female MLA in BC soon to become the first female cabinet minister
"Well done, sister suffragettes."

I am the daughter's, daughter's daughter.
Of some of the first tangible steps forward
We have been running for

And we do
We sing in grateful chorus
Well done sisters
Past, present and future.
Known, unknown, unacknowledged
Cast off the shackles, yesterday is gone.
Let's see how much glass we can break tomorrow.