While an aging population in rural Manitoba has meant the end of some Women’s Institute chapters, the Domain group is going strong.
President Val Fudge said the chapter was formed in 1947 with 29 women, and after some lean years, the membership count now stands at 19. Two of the original members are still active.
"The membership used to be mainly farm women," said Fudge, "But that has changed."
In fact, a few of the Domain members live in Winnipeg. Meetings are held monthly and usually take place in various members’ homes.
"We try to get a speaker," she said. Their April meeting will feature members’ daughters speaking about the careers they have chosen and challenges they face.
Formed in 1911, the Women’s Institute has a history of working for the betterment of rural women and their families within Manitoba, Canada and around the world through the provincial, national and international organizations.
Manitoba president Joan Clement said, "It’s been said that we’re the best-kept secret in rural Manitoba."
According to information on its website, the Manitoba Women’s Institute members helped to develop maternal health care programs in the 1920s, supported dental and eye clinics for rural children in the 1950s, and lobbied government to increase funding for ovarian cancer research and programs for people with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder in the past 10 years.
Clement said this year’s planned program focuses on lung health, and they are working with the Manitoba Lung Association to increase awareness.
The Domain members fundraise to support local and provincial charities and also provide a bursary for Sanford Collegiate.
Fudge has been a Women’s Institute member for 20 years, and appreciates the educational opportunities her membership brings.
She said joining the chapter is a great way for newcomers to get to know neighbours. She hopes that more subdivisions in the area will mean more new members.