Fonds - Congress of Black Women of Manitoba Inc. fonds

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Congress of Black Women of Manitoba Inc. fonds

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  • Textual record

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  • 1973, 1980-2010 (Creation)
    Congress of Black Women of Manitoba Inc.

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Physical description

0.88 m textual records

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Administrative history

On International Women’s Day, March 8, 1981, the Congress of Black Women of Manitoba Inc. was officially created. The non-profit organization, based out of Winnipeg, Manitoba, is also referred to as the Congress of Black Women (Manitoba Chapter) and the Congress of Black Women of Canada (Manitoba Chapter).

The Congress of Black Women of Manitoba Inc. traces its history to 1951 and the creation of the Canadian Negro Women’s Association (CANEWA) in Toronto. CANEWA was created by a small group of mostly Canadian born Black women. Dynamic human rights activist Kay Livingston was CANEWA’s first president and founder. She had a vision of building a united network of Black women. From 1951 to its dissolution in 1976, CANEWA served as one of the most active and organized Black organizations in Canada. During its tenure, CANEWA advocated for, and experienced, massive legal and social change for Black people living in Canada. CANEWA initially served primarily as a social organization, but became increasingly oriented towards social activism. 1973 served as a turning point for CANEWA when they organized their first national conference, which was held in Toronto under the banner the National Congress of Black Women, and was attended by over 200 people. Subsequent national Congresses were held across Canada, including Montreal (1974), Halifax (1976) and Windsor (1977). In 1980, during the national meeting in Winnipeg, the Congress of Black Women of Canada was formally created with the ratification of its constitution and the election of its National Executive. With the inception of the National Congress, came the creation of regional chapters in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Manitoba.

Manitoba’s regional chapter was formally created a year after the founding of the National Congress. Educator and activist Dr. Beryle Mae Jones served as the first President of the Manitoba Chapter. The programs and operations of the Congress are the responsibility of its elected Board of Directors. Every two years elections are held to fill the Board’s nine officer positions, which include President, Vice President, Past President, Secretary, Treasurer, Membership, Program, Fundraising and Social Director. The Congress holds monthly meetings, except during July and August, and membership is open to all Black women sixteen years of age and over.

Since its creation, the Congress has actively advocated -- through monthly meetings, community outreach events and workshops, newsletters, and involvement with the government and other organizations with similar mandates--for Black women’s rights and education, while striving to unite all Black women in Manitoba. Through their workshops, meetings and outreach projects, they aim to create a forum and climate where Black women are able to openly discuss and propose solutions to relevant issues, while also increasing awareness about those issues. The Congress actively advocates for the elimination of racism, sexism, classism, and violence against women and families. They promote Black consciousness and history, and unity among Black women through events like the celebration of Black history and women’s history, holding cross-cultural presentations, celebrating Kwanzaa and other community events, and holding dinners, fundraisers and socials. Among their initiatives, they established a scholarship program for Black students, and provide aid for recent immigrants and their families. They undertake social action and advocate for human rights, pension reform, employment standards, affirmative action, the health concerns of Black women and their families, raising awareness about international issues related to women in lower income countries, and facilitating cross-cultural relations. Throughout their history they have maintained an active correspondence with government ministers, departments and agencies to discuss issues relevant to the Congress, and have built strong ties with many national and provincial ethnic and women’s groups that share similar mandates and goals.

Custodial history

The fonds was donated by the Congress of Black Women of Manitoba Inc. in 2011 to the University of Winnipeg Archives.

Scope and content

The fonds is arranged into six series. The first series consists of the national constitutions and by-laws of the Congress of Black Women of Canada. The second series consists of meeting minutes and agendas, and while national meetings are included, local chapter meetings form the bulk of the series. The third series contains both outgoing and incoming correspondence between Congress members, allied organizations and various government departments and agencies, and includes invitations and responses to events and workshops, and calls to support causes relevant to the Congress. The fourth series is comprised of records relating to events and workshops, such as notices, programs and detailed reports and workshop manuals. The fifth series consists of internal publications, such as briefs to government departments, newsletters and information booklets. The sixth series includes external publications, such as the newsletters of allied organizations and government reports.

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition


The Congress of Black Women of Manitoba Inc. fonds came to the Archives in four boxes and is organized into labeled file folders or binders. The labels often reflect, on a very basic level, the contents of the binder/ file, but no consistent system of naming is in place, and approximately a quarter of the binder/ file names do not adequately reflect their contents. The content of the records of each binder/ file correspond roughly into one of several series, including the constitution and by-laws, minutes and agendas, correspondence, events and workshops, internal publications, and external publications.

However, approximately a quarter of the binders/files contain a wide array of content, with no clear pattern, and do not fit easily into a series. Consequently there can be considerable overlap with the other series. Most content within the binders/ files is arranged in chronological order.

The arrangement of this fonds is reflective of the fact that throughout the organization’s tenure, a number of different people were responsible for creating and arranging the records and various record-keeping systems were employed in their retention.

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

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Restrictions on access

Some items in this fonds are restricted because they contain sensitive or personal information. The restrictions will be lifted fifty years after acquisition.

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

Where owned, copyright has been transferred to the University of Winnipeg Archives.

Finding aids

A more detailed finding aid including box and folder listings are available at the link above.

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Further accruals to this fonds are expected.

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Created by Chantel Banman, August 12, 2015
Revised by Brett Lougheed, October 16, 2015

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