AWI On-Going Projects

Radium Fund – In 1936, on the suggestion of Dr. Stuart Rose, the district conference at Lethbridge passed a resolution to establish a fund to provide radium sticks for free cancer treatments in the Lethbridge region. This decision was taken not only in the middle of the Great Depression, but at a time before universal medical care. Women’s Institutes (WIs) thus established the only publicly-owned supply of radium south of Edmonton. By the mid 1950s, the supply had built up to such an extent that no further donations were necessary. The provincial organization became involved in this project during the late 1930s. In 1939, the AWI donated $2000 to the Minister to Education, having passed a resolution asking the government to establish cancer clinics on the same basis as tuberculosis clinics across the province. The result of this successful citizen action was that the Province passed the Cancer Act in 1940, making cancer treatments free of charge.

The Cancer work of AWI was interrupted by World War Two. At the 1947 Convention, the AWI decided that the organization would establish an on-going Cancer Fund. The AWI’s on-going commitment to this cause resulted in a seat for the AWI on the provincial board of the Cancer Society.

In 1952, the AWI decided to close the Cancer Fund and divert the money to teaching members about disease prevention and early diagnosis. This was accomplished through holding Health Institute Schools at the University of Alberta and the Banff School of Fine Arts. Over 300 members attended these institutes.

Wood, Cornelia. The Story of the Alberta Women’s Institute, 1909-1955 n.p. 1955.

History Supplement of the Alberta Women’s Institute, 1956-1975. n.p., 1975.