Profile of Past President
Catharine Laidlaw-Sly has been an active member of National Council of Women of Canada (NCWC), the Provincial Council of Women of Quebec (PCWQ) and the Montreal Council of Women (MCW) since 1987.
She has served in a variety of roles. Locally Catharine was Convener for Legislation and Convener of Status of Women. She was Newsletter Editor, Vice- President and President. For the Quebec Provincial Council she was the Environment Convener. Nationally, Catharine was elected by her peers to serve as Environment Convener, Vice-President Administration and later as Vice- President for International Affairs and Vice-President of Community Affairs. She also was one of the delegates to the International Council of Women Trienniums in Washington, Bangkok, Ottawa and Helsinki. She was appointed, as NCWC’s representative to the United Nations in 1997.Additionally she held down positions such as Acting Recording Secretary, Resolutions Convener and member of the Finance Committee.
Catharine has had six children and has 22 grandchildren. She grew up in the traditional patriarchal life style of the post depression era. Like so many women she started to be active in her community supporting the activities involving her children. She co-founded a Crèche, chaired a support group for mothers and demonstrated her leadership skills by volunteering for the Girl Guides. The nest emptied as quickly as it filled and Catharine decided it was time for her to expand her horizons. She submitted her name to the Montreal Volunteer Bureau and was placed with a shelter for battered women. This was a life-changing event.
She was exposed to Feminism in action, women helping women and women’s consciousness-raising classes and discussion groups.
This newfound empowerment encouraged her to work as a volunteer within her community supporting and initiating programs that supported women ‘s issues. She was elected to the board of Auberge Transition where she served as Chairperson of the Property Committee and was elected President of the Board of Directors.
Catharine joined the Montreal Council of Women, excited that she could affect social change on women’s issues through the NCWC’s resolution process. Her passion for writing flourished, as she became involved at the local, provincial and national levels. She has prepared and presented briefs to government on behalf of the NCWC in the area of Bill C-2 (Elections), Nuclear Waste Disposal Proposition, Violence in Films/Videos, Caplan-Sauvageau Commission, National Energy Board Consultations, Canadian CEDAW Strategies, WAMM6 Commonwealth and Broadcasting and presented talks on the Beijing NGO Forum just to mention a few.
Catharine continues her work in the Montreal community as a member of the Zonta Club of Montreal, Business and Professional Women’s Club. She was the Founder and Director of TMR Curling Club Instruction Clinic.
Catharine was elected President by the National Council of Women of Canada’s membership and assumed the presidency at the Annual General Meeting held June 9, 2001 at the University of British Columbia.