Women’s Labour History Project

on to ottawa

Women’s Labour History Project | 1978-1995

The Women’s Labour History Project was initiated by Sara Diamond when she was an undergraduate history student at Simon Fraser University.  The scope of the project between 1978 and 1980 was comprised of audio interviews with women who had been active in the British Columbia trade union movement from the 1890s.  The SFU Archives holds the audio and textual records for this portion of the project. SFU FINDING AIDS

Sara Diamond produced video as part of Amelia Productions and was a Video Inn producer and staff member.  Between 1988 and 1995 she directed several video projects as Women’s Labour History Project, working closely with Jennifer Abbott (The Corporation), researcher and editor on many of them, including the short video, Ten Dollars or Nothing (1989). The video successfully melded experimental practice with oral history traditions, speaking successfully to the art, feminist, First Nations, and trade union communities, making it one of the most highly rated and broadly rented videos in Video Out’s distribution catalogue.

 

 

“Ten Dollars Or Nothing” Excerpt, W.L.H.P. Directed by Sara Diamond, 1989, 12 minutes.

Original Format: 3/4″ Umatic

Keeping the Home Fires Burning

Director Sara Diamond

1988

49 min

Combining original Canadian wartime propaganda, interviews with women workers, original footage and photographs, musical soundtracks and dramatization, KEEPING THE HOME FIRES BURNING explores the unique experience of Canada s working women during World War Two.
Keeping The Home Fires Burning: Part 1

Director Sara Diamond

1988

29 min

Part 1 and 2The Forties – the Fifties his first segment explores the histories of working-class women and men in post-war transition. The dramatic series (The Forties, The Fifties)uses the vehicle of a voice narrator, typical of advertising, documentary and dramatic narrative of the time, to orchestrate and speak the contradictory wisdom of the era concerning women s ideal position within society. It refers the viewer to the unresolved story of Dorothy, George and Bobby Sanderson, three individuals trapped within the messages and demands of their epoch.
Keeping The Home Fires Burning: Part 2

Director Sara Diamond

1988

25 min

PART 2 – The 1940 s were a time of rapid growth for British Columbia s trade unions. Not surprisingly, women were swept up in the tide of industrial organization, serving as organizers, stewards and executive members. The resons for and results of women s union activity emerge through agit-prop dramatization based on the workers theatre of the era and personal testimony.
Ten Dollars or Nothing  (excerpt)

Director Sara Diamond

1989

12 min

Despite the rigours of the last Great Depression, B.C. s coastal canneries continued their production, employing thousands of White, First Nations, and Japanese workers. This video combines oral histories, archival film and photography, current video footage and soundtrack to recall the history of women workers in the province s canneries. Josephine Charlie, a First Nations woman who worked in the fishing industry from the 1900 s to the 1950 s, provides eloquent testimony to the challenges and pleasures of coastal life.
Lull Before The Storm

Director Sara Diamond; Co-Producer Knowledge Network

1990

48 min

This four part-series (each segment is 48 minutes long) examines the changing roles of women in post-war British Columbia, and the transisitions that were taking place in the family, the media and the workforce at the time.
Lull Before The Storm – Part 2

Director Sara Diamond; Co-Producer Knowledge Network

1990

48 min

The Fifites is the second part of the four-part series about British Columbia s women s history. It centres on changing definitions of feminity and the impact of these on family life.
Lull Before The Storm – Part 3: Women of Wood

Director Sara Diamond; Co-Producer Knowledge Network

1990

48 min

Using the video histories of women who were married to men working in the woods and mills of British Columbia, women who worked in the wood industry or who were active in issues of concern to woodworkers. Using a documentary format, it emphasizes the important role of women in family and community life in rural environments and the critical role of women s activism in improving working and living conditions in the 40 s and 50 s in British Columbia.
Lull Before The Storm – Part 4: Community Acts

Director Sara Diamond; Co-Producer Knowledge Network

1990

48 min

COMMUNITY ACTS emphasizes the activism, organization and cultural tradition of women working for better conditions for the community as a whole.
On To Ottawa

Director Sara Diamond

Co-Produced with the On To Ottawa Historical Society

1992

53 min

A documentary about the struggles and activism of the unemployed and their supporters during the 1930 s depression. Herded into isolated relief camps, single unemployed men found governments hostile to their demand for meaningful work at decent wages. In 1935, thousands boarded freight trains and headed for Ottawa in protest, while others provided encouragement and support along the way. Based on the play by Tom Hawken, and the testimonies of those who were there, this video combines live performance with historic footage to create an important document of a fascinating time in Canadian labour history.
29/92

Director Sara Diamond

1992

17 min

In 1935 thousands of unemployed men hopped freight trains for Ottawa demanding work, wages and an end to relief camps. This shorter version of ON TO OTTAWA brings this historic event to the video medium. It is based on the play by Tom Hawken featuring his band and trek participants Robert Jackson, Jean Sheils and Ray Wainwright. Dramatic voiceovers and historical footage complement the live performance.
Fit To Be Tied

Director Sara Diamond

1995

24:30 min

Another in the acclaimed series of videos on B.C. women in the workforce, FIT TO BE TIED documents the lives of hard-working, spirited women during the depression era. Drawing upon oral history, archival footage, and a poetic layering of photographs, film clips, and dramatic re-enactment, the video covers such issues as women’s poverty, labour activism, reproduction, feminism, and the rise Fascism in the 30 s.

Learn about our   Adopt-A-Tape Program   or   DONATE NOW