Olive Ruth Russell in her CWAC uniform. As executive assistant to the director general of rehabilitation, she led DVA’s program for women veterans. (Susan Ruth Swallow, ma thesis, 153)
“It is true,” she wrote, “I try to be very on my toes all the time to protect and advance women’s right to freedom of choice as an adult citizen in a democracy, and do all I can to see that the equality of opportunity and benefits provided by the legislation for ex-service women may become a reality in practice, but I do try to be gracious about it all and try to avoid the antagonisms that so easily arise, especially in regard to the question of the married woman working.” This was revealing, but there can be no doubt about the strength of Russell’s convictions as an advocate of equal rights for women in Canadian society.
On 15 March 1944 she explained her views on the impact the war was having on Canadian women in an address to the University Women’s Club of Dalhousie University. Women, she observed, were “participating in the war effort to an extent that few would have dreamed possible even a decade ago.”
Excerpted from On to Civvy Street: Canada’s Rehabilitation Program for Veterans of the Second World War by Peter Neary
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