Alberta Women's Institute

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Alberta Women's Institute

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        The Alberta Women's Institute was originally organized in 1909 by private citizens. It was organized provincially in 1915, and was established in 1916 as a body within the Department of Agriculture under the Women's Institute Act of 1916 (Statutes of Alberta Chapter 21, 1916). The Alberta Women's Institutes became independent of the government again in 1929.The first Women's Institute in Alberta was established in Lea Park in 1909. It was this group that urged the government to officially establish “Women's Institutes” as a program in the province. In 1912, Roberta MacAdams, a home economist from Ontario, was asked by Alberta's Department of Agriculture to survey the needs of women in the province. Her report led to the development of the Alberta Women's Institutes as a government-sponsored program. The functions of the institutes were to improve social conditions in rural and other communities by means of studying home economics and child welfare. The institutes functioned to encourage agriculture and improve agricultural conditions. The institutes also held, established, and maintained demonstrations, lectures, short course schools, travelling and other libraries, exhibitions, competitions, meetings, conventions and attractions. The Alberta Women's Institutes were composed of local branches from communities throughout Alberta and had as its aim the betterment of life for both home and country.Branches of the Alberta Women's Institutes were provincially organized in 1915, and officially incorporated under the Alberta Women's Institutes Act of 1916. The Alberta government believed that by improving the domestic lives of settlers, their comfort, health and efficiency further settlement would follow. The Alberta Women's Institutes operated under the auspices of the Department of Agriculture until 1929.On July 1st, 1928 the Women's Home Bureau Act came into effect, declaring that the Alberta Women's Institutes should become self-supporting, which it did following a 5 year restructuring period. An executive committee was formed and a new constitution and by-laws drawn up in accordance with the Women's Home Bureau Act. Responsibility for the Alberta Women's Institute Act has transferred between departments, but as of October of 1996 it has rested with Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development. The Alberta Women's Institutes continues to be subject to government regulation and receives an annual government grant from the province of Alberta. A provincial council manages and controls the affairs of the Alberta Women's Institutes through districts down to the branch level. The council, governed by a president, approves the dissolution or establishment of local institutes. Local institutes consist of elected officers: a president, a vice-president, a secretary and a treasurer, as well as at least three directors. An institute must hold an annual general meeting in December of each year.

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