By 1908, women were beginning to fight inequality and oppression. They began to campaign for change, raised their voices in protest of oppression and became very vocal about the inequlity they were subjected to on a daily basis. This same year, the streets of New York City were filled with 15,000 women marching in protest. They demanded the right to vote, a shorter work week and better wages.
On February 28, 1909, the first Woman's Day was observed in the US. Women celebrated Woman's Day on the last Sunday in February. Since those early days, International Women's Day has come to be. Today women in countries all over the world recognize and celebrate the contributions of women.
This year, International Women's Day is celebrated on March 8th. Be sure to attend an International Women's Day event if at all possible. If not, please take the time to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of a women in your life. She may be a single mother, a senior citizen or a teen. She doesn't have to be famous or have any special qualifications. She just needs to be a woman who has accomplished something in her life.
I would like to recognize a fellow Canadian woman who is little known, but who accomplished great things as a pioneer in medicine and science. Her name is Marie Henrietta Ross and she was a Canadian pioneer.
It's hard to imagine what life was like for early settlers to Canada. Early pioneer, Marie Henriette Ross faced daily challenges. In addition, she blazed a trail in the world of science in Canada, inspiring future generations to follow their dreams.
Granny Ross, as she was eventually known by fellow Nova Scotians, served as a midwife and healer over sixty years. Her name has been passed down through generations. Though information on this woman is very difficult to find, I did find out that she gave birth to eleven children. This would have made each day a challenge, just keeping their clothes clean, preparing meals and other household duties. However, Marie always found time to help her fellow man.
Marie LeJeune was born in 1762 in Rochefort, France. Her parents, Joseph LeJeune and Martine LeRoy were Acadians who had been deported to France from what is now known as Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. In 1771, they returned to Acadia. In 1778, they were once again deported to France. It was here, at the tender age of seventeen, that Marie married Joseph Comeau. He was thirty-seven years older than Marie.
Marie returned to Acadia with her husband in 1784. Later that year, Joseph drowned. At age twenty-two, Marie was a widow.
Shortly after Joseph's death, Marie followed her family to Little Bras d' Or, Nova Scotia. She married her first cousin, Bernard LeJeune dit Briard. Bernard drowned shortly after the wedding, leaving Marie a widow once more.
At the age of twenty-six, Marie met Protestant Scottish soldier, James Ross. The couple married and first settled in Little Bras d' Or. Later, they followed James' family to East Margaree River.
While living in Bras d' Or, Marie realized that she'd been blessed with the gifts of healing and midwifery. The legend of her life began there. During a small pox epidemic, she cared for friends and neighbours, both French and English. She was always ready to attend anyone in the community who needed her services. Since she had already had small pox, she was immune to the deadly disease. Marie saved many lives during the epidemic. The people she helped never forgot the dedication of this woman.
Over the years, Marie studied plants for their medicinal purposes. She spent many hours in the forest and became a knowledgeable herbalist. She traveled miles from her home to nurse the sick. She delivered hundreds of babies in her lifetime.
Marie's forest adventures and her knowledge of herbs became known far and wide. This is when the Granny Ross legend began to take shape. She dedicated her life to the study of plants, in the hope that her findings would save lives. As she advanced in age, she became blind. Still, her healing and midwifery services were much in demand.
Marie's life was one of inspiration and dedication. She thought only of others and never of herself. Her goal in life was to help mankind. Her dream was certainly realized. She died in 1860, at the age of ninety-eight.
Marie left behind a great legacy. This midwife, herbalist and healer devoted her entire life to the study of plants and the healing of those in her community of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Her name holds a place in the history of that province.