Dear Shirley 1980 and 1990s
Shirley Lucille Pettifer 1947-2022
I met Shirley on a teachers’ picket line in front of Cegep Vanier College in 1978, protesting the wrongful dismissal of 14 teachers.
We had an immediate affinity, enjoyed hanging out together and with our children, and discovered much in common – we both had a foot in Quebec’s Eastern Townships, she in Ham Nord, myself in Malvina. Shirley drew my photo work to the attention of the Montreal Health Press, whose handbooks I admired (see 2 MHP Collections). We were active in the College, in our departments, the union and Women’s Studies. With both our growing families living in Ottawa, we rented various summer cottages around Gatineau, Quebec, just north of Ottawa and shared family lake-time for a week or two.
Shirley succumbed to cancer in late September 2022 within less than a year of first diagnosis. It was heartbreaking and wrenching for so many of us; we miss her vitality, her activism, her empathy and care.
Shirley was a keen participant in my art work – a willing subject, editor and sometimes even an exhibit installer. She was frequently in front of my lens.
A friend responding to these collections wrote: “This is a remarkable chronicle of a life well lived – filled with family, friendship, work and companionship… It is a loving compilation and an invaluable gift to her family.”
March 8, 2023
International Women’s Day