Message from the National President, May 7
Anna Jarvis, a rural woman and founder of Mother’s Day.
At this time of pandemic illness and uncertainty, where so many of our members are out there working on the front lines, I wanted to wish you all a wonderful Mother’s Day this weekend and take a moment together to recall its origins.
Mother’s Day began in the early 20th century at a time when maternal and infant mortality were leading causes of death for women and children, and following decades of women fighting for more recognition and respect for their role as caregivers.
An Appalachian woman named Anna Jarvis continued her mother’s dream of holding “Mothers Day Work Clubs.” Jarvis’s mother only saw four of her thirteen children survive to adulthood! The idea was to provide better medical care and sanitation to prevent babies from dying prematurely. Jarvis went on to found the Mother’s Day
International Association in 1912, which eventually succeeded in making the second Sunday in May a day to honour mothers.
While Jarvis is widely recognized as the founder of Mother’s Day, we should also give some credit to Julia Ward Howe (famous for writing “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” which unions use for the tune of “Solidarity Forever”). Howe advocated for a “Mothers Peace Day” where women would resist sending their sons to die in wars.
However, as with March 8th, which was originally “International Working Women’s Day,” sometimes the activist origins of a day get buried in the past.
Ultimately, Anna Jarvis was disappointed by the growing focus she saw during her lifetime on buying flowers and gifts for Mothers’ Day, seeing it as a move by corporations to profit from a precious day of recognition. For this Mothers’ Day, I urge us all to bring our focus back to making sure that all Canada’s mothers and babies are healthy and safe.
We want to keep hearing about your stories and those of your communities during this difficult time. Please feel free to share them with us via the contact form on our website or by emailing us at the National Office. And please keep suggestions and photos coming!