6 March 2021

I originally wrote this post for International Women’s Day 2016. In reblogging it in 2019 and 2020, I made editorial changes and slight name adjustments. (My theme for women’s history month in 2020 involved the Canadian Heritage Minutes). As you will read at the end, I’ve updated the warrior woman shipping line fleet again.

25 March 2020

This post, originally written for #IWD2016, was reblogged for #IWD2019. I made editorial changes in 2019; and this year, I made a slight 2020 adjustment to the names of the women included. You are welcome to add the names of ships in your “warrior woman shipping line.”

8 March 2019

“The theme for International Women’s Day (8 March 2019) this year,Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change”, puts innovation by women and girls, for women and girls, at the heart of efforts to achieve gender equality.” UN Women. Join the conversation: #WomensDay. Share the video.

“The future is exciting. Let’s build a gender-balanced world. Everyone has a part to play – all the time, everywhere. From grassroots activism to worldwide action, we are entering an exciting period of history where the world expects balance. We notice its absence and celebrate its presence. Balance drives a better working world. Let’s all help create a #BalanceforBetter.” International Woman’s Day

To celebrate #IWD2019, I am reblogging posts with female central characters or written in honour of previous International Women’s Days.

8 March 2016: warrior woman shipping line

Cat and I would slip down the stairs, sock and paw-footed in the pre-dawn sepia. I reached high, and undid the bolt so the door swung open into the morning. Cat skittled out; I followed carrying our paper bag. Muddy rubber boots left on the porch; carried to the bottom step where I shoved them on. Cat lead the way; she knew all the shortcuts. Only two ups and 3 downs, two twists around hawthorn trees, shuffle through pine needle carpet, and forest became lake. I always let Cat chose which spit of land, which beach, which over hanging branch we would launch our ships from.

Great-grandfather showed me, fingers like tree roots, to fold, and fold, and fold, then crease, fold, crease, release. Between his mangled hands rested a delicate sailing boat. “She’ll sail to Borneo and back,” he cried. “Just you see. When I can get up (always tomorrow), I’ll take you down to the lake for the launch.”

Next, would always be, “And mon petit oiseau, what shall we call our brave ship?”

We had lots of names as Great-grandfather made me many ships before he passed. I wrote the “moniker” as he called it on in bright coloured crayons while he told me the letters. “Boudicca.” “Joan of Arc.” “Eleanor of Aquitaine.” “Mirabai.” “Mary Wollstonecraft.” “Mary Seacole.” “Harriet Tubman.” “Florence Nightingale.” “Charlotte Perkins Gilman.” “Rosa Luxemburg.” “Virginia Wolfe.” “Billie Holliday.” “Bessie Smith.” “Wangari Maathai.” “Audrey Hepburn.” “Shirin Abadi.” “Loujain al-Hathloul.”

Then on launching day, Cat and I would reach the lake just as sepia turned to orangy-yellow. Taking a boat out of the bag, I gently placed it on the water. Cat thomped it with her paw, and I recited what Great-Grandfather taught me, “I dub thee the “Elizabeth Fry”. May ye always sail straight and strong. May ye find Borneo and return to tell us the tales.”

It’s my daughter, and her cat, Cat, who now launch the ships of the Women Warrior Line. She will dub the Shirin Abadi, [. . . ] the Malala Yousafzai, [the Mary Shadd] and send them off to Borneo. And wait for each’s return.

Today [March 8, 2016] is International Women’s Day: the ships of the Women Warrior Line represent only a small number of influential women throughout history. Then there are the millions upon millions of women who left no record of their heroic survivals, their deeds, their kindnesses, their friendships, their revolutions, their rebellions. They too deserve a paper ship to sail to Borneo. For some of the names, I used women who changed the world and from there links to other sites. This list is by no means representative, and there are so many names that aren’t here. To those who I’ve omitted, I owe an apology and no doubt a debt of gratitude.

2020 addendum

This list should include a ship named “Viola Desmond,” who challenged racially segregated movie theaters in Nova Scotia in the 1940s. She is featured on the redesigned Canadian $10. released last year. Watch her Heritage Minute. 03.08.2019

2021 addendum

And, when the warrior woman shipping fleet sails in 2021, there will be (to name but a few) new ships added to the line: the “Kamala Harris;” the “Amanda Gorman;” the “Greta Thunberg.” The wonderous thing is how each year the fleet expands! Who would you add to my less than comprehensive list?

image: latoday.deviantart.com: me & my best friend for mmlm photo challenge March 2016