Learning, Connection and Fun

Women and Sports

Posted on: March 16th, 2016 by

This month there is an unusual event taking place at the Chilliwack Museum and Archives. The event features a panel of athletes, coaches and sports administrators who will talk about sports and answer questions related to their sports careers. I know what you are thinking – why is a museum hosting a sports-related event? Typically when people get together to discuss sports, it’s over a few beers in a bar. So what’s up?

Game On! Women in Sports

Our event is called Game On! Women in Sports and takes place in the Chambers Gallery of the Chilliwack Museum and Archives at 7pm on Thursday, March 31. Our major partner for this event is ViaSport BC, British Columbia’s sport agency, who have been promoting their provincial campaign advocating for gender equity in sport called Level the Field (#LevelTheField). The timing is good: ViaSport’s gender equity campaign parallels our current exhibit about Chilliwack’s sporting history Game On! The History of Sports in Chilliwack. The symposium and our partnership: a natural fit.

Why the Topic of Women in Sports?

Chilliwack Girls Hockey Team 1964

Chilliwack Girls hockey team from Left to Right, Front row: Carol Wawryk, Donna Coldwell, Yvonne Percher, Heather Innes, Mavis Tetlock, Lynne Furnis, Fay Cross. Back row: Ann Hanna, Sandra Roach, Colleen Barrow, Bev Carmichael, Arlene Price, Joene Pyvis, Judy Caldwell, and Coach Fred Madden. 1964. 1999.029.042.018

As our Curator Jane was busy scouring our Archives for sports-related material, it was quickly realized that something was missing from the historical sports record – women. While there was some evidence that women were involved in sports and recreation to varying degrees over the years, little of this research or archival documentation has been deposited at the Chilliwack Museum and Archives.

Newspapers, haven’t always highlighted or included female sporting accomplishments either. But we know that women did participate in, and excel at, sports. Photographs, oral histories and community members and a few artifacts help tell the stories. They speak of achievements on a local and regional level in team sports like basketball and field hockey, bowling, curling and lawn bowling for example. Women formed teams and clubs, officiated, coached and had fun, even through controversy at times.

The Game On! Women in Sport symposium on March 31st intends to fill in the gaps missing from our exhibit  – to bring the achievements and history of Fraser Valley’s women athletes, coaches, participants and builders, out from the darkness and into the light.

A Personal Connection

Shannon Bettles goalie

I always wanted to be a goaltender, even at a young age.

I’m very excited that such an event is being held by the Chilliwack Museum and Archives in partnership with ViaSport. Today’s museums and archives are more than dust-collecting warehouses of ancient artifacts – they are about stories and relationships. Bringing builders and champions in female sport together to tell their past and present stories are part of what Museums and Archives are all about. Sharing, learning, growing and laughing together – we remember and move forward in a positive way.

I am proud that my father was a champion of women’s sports. In the 1980s he volunteered for the Aldergrove Ringette Association to develop and promote ringette, a sport today enjoyed by thousands of girls, boys, women and men across Canada. In 1995, he fought to obtain ice as he organized Langley’s first girls’ ice hockey association.

I’ve been very fortunate to have been involved in team sports like ice hockey, ringette and softball for over 30 years. The opportunities to participate in and represent my province and country in the sports of hockey and ringette would not have been possible without the hard work of the women and men before me who fought to level the field.

Shannon Bettles University of Guelph

Here I am playing goal for the University of Guelph Gryphons, 2001. I attended the first Canadian University Championships for women’s hockey in 1998.

I hope to see a packed house on March 31 to welcome our panelists and ViaSport guests at the Chilliwack Museum and Archives. I would be thrilled to see the next generation of young female athletes, coaches, officials and administrators fill the room alongside the veteran athletes. My dad’s wish for his daughters was that they continue to give back to and support women’s sport. I have taken the ViaSport #LevelTheField pledge, I hope you do too.

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