Liz Johnson of the Sooke Mothers’ Union said the group is the last one west of the Great Lakes. At one time, the groups existed across the country. (Tim Collins - Sooke News Mirror)

Liz Johnson of the Sooke Mothers’ Union said the group is the last one west of the Great Lakes. At one time, the groups existed across the country. (Tim Collins - Sooke News Mirror)

Sooke’s Mothers’ Union the last remnant of the group in Western Canada

Steady decline in Canada not the case in other parts of the world

The Mothers’ Union is a rapidly disappearing organization in North America, and Sooke has the last group in existence west of the Great Lakes.

It wasn’t always that way.

There were hundreds of Mothers’ Union groups in Canada and five active groups on Vancouver Island, helping young mothers learn the basics of how to care for and raise their babies, during the 1940s.

The groups were linked to the Church of England and the Anglican church and after their inception in England in 1876, their number grew quickly as one diocese after another formed their own Mothers’ Union.

But those were the days before public health nurses, readily available medical care, and a host of other services designed to help young mothers. It was also before social media and countless other resources were available to offer advice on how to be a good mother.

It was also during a time when churches were the beating heart of community life.

“It (the Mothers’ Union) started dropping off when people stopped going to church,” Liz Johnson, Sooke Mothers’ Union head, said.

“It started going down, down, down, just as the attendance at the church started to decline. Now there are a lot of grey heads in the church, but not as many young people.”

The Sooke Mothers’ Union now has only five members and it no longer provides guidance to young mothers. Instead, the group concentrates its efforts on participating in its one large, annual event – Apple Fest.

RELATED: Apple Fest an annual favourite

“We bake about 150 pies and put them up for sale. We donate the money we raise to the church and to a variety of charities,” Johnson said.

“That’s the main thing we still do, although there are some other activities we continue to do on a smaller scale.”

The Sooke Mothers’ Union members still serves food for the Sooke Philharmonic Society and the Ekoos Choir, and when a child is christened at Holy Trinity Anglican, they still create a banner with the child’s name that’s presented to the parents.

But the Mothers’ Union’s decline is not happening everywhere.

“The Mothers’ Union today still has more than four million members worldwide and it is particularly strong in Africa, India, and places like Myanmar,” Johnson said.

“Internationally, it’s still strong, but in Canada, I guess we’re part of a disappearing organization. But we’re going to hang on, and if there’s a need, we’ll be there to help.”



mailto:tim.collins@sookenewsmirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Sooke

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Victoria police are asking for help locating Izabel Villeneuve, 14, who was last seen Jan. 19. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
Victoria police seek help locating missing 14-year-old

Izabel Villeneuve was last seen in the morning of Jan. 19

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the legislature, Jan. 11, 2021. (B.C. government)
Vancouver Island smashes COVID-19 high: 47 new cases in a day

Blowing past previous records, Vancouver Island is not matching B.C.s downward trend

The Boys and Girls Club of Greater Victoria says sale of the planned subdivision will increase the club’s ability to provide services and support. (Courtesy of Association for the Protection of Rural Metchosin)
Victoria Boys and Girls Club says youth would benefit from Metchosin land sale

Club says sale will guarantee supports and programs at time when demand high

Jan. 21 marks the 21st day of the 21st year of the 21st century, according to some. (Black Press Media file photo)
The 21st day of the 21st year of the 21st century is upon us – maybe

Milestone won’t be back for another 100 years

Environment Canada is forecasting snow for the east Vancouver Island region the weekend of Jan. 23. (Black Press file)
Up to 15 cm of snow forecast for Vancouver Island this weekend

Snow on Malahat to begin Saturday night, according to Environment Canada

Businesses continue to struggle under COVID-19 restrictions as the pandemic reaches the one-year mark. (B.C. government)
Another 564 COVID-19 cases, mass vaccine plan coming Friday

15 more deaths, community cluster declared in Williams Lake

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Jan. 19

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Premier John Horgan leaves the podium following his first press conference of the year as he comments on various questions from the media in the Press Gallery at B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, January 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interprovincial travel restrictions a no-go, Horgan says after reviewing legal options

The B.C. NDP government sought legal advice as concerns of travel continue

Gem Lake Top, at Big White Ski Resort, seen at Jan. 8. (Big White Ski Resort)
Big White cancels $7.3M in lift tickets, accommodations due to COVID-19 orders

Since November, the ski resort has been forced to make several changes

Darlene Curylo scratched a $3M ticket, BCLC’s largest ever scratch and win prize. (BCLC)
Kelowna woman in shock after winning BCLC’s largest-ever instant-ticket prize

Darlene Curylo couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw the amount of money she’d won from a scratch ticket

While each person has different reasons for becoming homeless, a UBCO study shows they learn through their interactions with different services to perform ‘as homeless’ based on the expectations of service providers. (Contributed)
Kelowna homeless forced to ‘perform’ for resources, says UBCO study

One participant in the study said ‘It is about looking homeless, but not too homeless’

Aquaculture employee from Vancouver Island, Michelle, poses with a comment that she received on social media. Facebook group Women in Canadian Salmon Farming started an online campaign #enoughisenough to highlight the harassment they were facing online after debates about Discovery Islands fish farms intensified on social media. (Submitted photo)
Female aquaculture employees report online bullying, say divisive debate has turned sexist

Vancouver Island’s female aquaculture employees start #enoughisenough to address misogynistic comments aimed at them

Mowi Canada West’s Sheep Pass salmon farm, the company’s final B.C. operation to receive certification from the Aquaculture Steward Council. The Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) is questioning a government decision to phase out salmon farms in the Discovery Islands. (Photo supplied by Mowi Canada West)
Canadian Federation of Agriculture backs B.C. salmon farmers

Letter to prime minister calls for federal “champion” for aquaculture growth

Most Read