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Suffrage in British Columbia – and elsewhere in Canada – is best understood as a continuum: although white settler women achieved the federal vote in 1917, it would take another thirty years before the provincial government would remove race-based restrictions on voting rights.
British Columbia is often overlooked in the national story of women’s suffrage. A Great Revolutionary Wave challenges that omission and the portrayal of suffragists as conservative, traditional, and polite. Lara Campbell follows the propaganda campaigns undertaken by suffrage organizations and traces the role of working-class women in the fight for political equality. She demonstrates the connections between British Columbian and British suffragists and examines how racial exclusion and Indigenous dispossession shaped arguments and tactics for enfranchisement. A Great Revolutionary Wave rethinks the complex legacy of suffrage by considering both the successes and limitations of women’s historical fight for political equality. That legacy remains relevant today as Canadians continue to grapple with the meaning of justice, inclusion, and equality.