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CBC - Quebec labour leader Madeleine Parent dies

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Published: 12 Mar 2012

Madeleine Parent, a Quebec trade union activist and feminist best remembered for organizing textile workers in the 1940s, has died in Montreal at the age of 93.

Madeleine Parent, a Quebec trade union activist and feminist best remembered for organizing textile workers in the 1940s, has died in Montreal at the age of 93. Parent devoted her life to union activism and feminist causes, beginning in 1942, when she organized a strike against Dominion Textile on behalf of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union.

Parent's union activism on behalf of textile workers in Montreal, Valleyfield and Lachute – and later throughout Ontario, alongside her husband and fellow union activist Kent Rowley – turned her into an lifelong advocate for the rights of poor working women and a fighter for equal pay for work of equal value.

Parent was born in 1918 into a liberal middle-class family. She was a boarder at the Villa-Maria convent and, according to Library and Archives Canada, she was appalled by the difference in treatment received by the girls employed as servants and boarders like herself. Parent attended the exclusive Trafalgar Academy before going on to McGill University – a rare choice for a young francophone woman in 1936. Her battle against social injustice began there, fighting for bursaries for low-income students.

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