A Great Restlessness
The Life and Times of Dorise Nielsen
Dorise Nielsen was a pioneering feminist, a radical politician, the first Communist elected to Canada’s House of Commons, and the only woman elected in 1940. But despite her remarkable career, until now little has been known about her.
From her youth in London during World War I to her burial in 1980 in a hero’s cemetery in China, Nielsen lived through tumultuous times. Struggling through the Great Depression as a homesteader’s wife in rural Saskatchewan, Nielsen rebelled against the poverty and injustice that surrounded her, and found like-minded activists in the CCF and the Communist Party of Canada. In 1940 when leaders of the Communist Party were either interned or underground, Nielsen became their voice in Parliament. But her activism came at a high price. As a single mother in Ottawa, she sacrificed a close relationship with her family for her career. As a woman in an emerging political organisation, her authority was increasingly usurped by younger male party members. As a committed communist, she moved to Mao’s China in 1957 and dedicated her life’s work to a cause that went seriously awry.
Faith Johnston illuminates the life of a woman who paved the way for a generation of women in politics, who tried to be both a good mother and a good revolutionary, and who refused to give up on either.
Publication Date: October 30th, 2006
392 pages| 6 in x 9 in
Faith Johnston is a Winnipeg writer and former Ottawa teacher. She has a MasterÆs in WomenÆs Studies from Carleton University and her work has been published in Dropped Threads 2, The New Quarterly, Prairie Fire, Other Voices, and A Room of OneÆs Own. Her research for A Great Restlessness took her across the Canadian prairies, through archives in Toronto and Ottawa, and to Beijing during the 2003 SARS epidemic.