Advances in women’s rights, higher gas prices and the upcoming federal election were making headlines in the July 3, 1974, edition of Inukshuk newsletter, the forerunner of Nunatsiaq News. (Photo courtesy of Library and Archives Canada)

Yesterday’s News: N.W.T.’s ‘most forward’ women’s rights legislation was front-page news in 1974

Dive into Nunatsiaq News’ historic front pages during paper’s 50th anniversary

By Nunatsiaq News

A new bill on women’s property rights was reported to be the “most forward legislation” on the matter when it was introduced in 1974 by the Northwest Territories Council, the forerunner of the territorial government, the Inukshuk newsletter reported in July of that year.

It recognized both spouses’ contributions to family assets in the event of a marriage breakup.

Divorce law was still relatively new in Canada, as was the notion of how to divide assets when couples split up.

So the proposed law was front-page news on July 3, 1974, in Inukshuk, which was by then a year-and-a-half-old newspaper. Created in 1973 as an “experiment” to bring the people of growing Frobisher Bay (later Iqaluit) together, it was the forerunner of Nunatsiaq News.

As Nunatsiaq News celebrates its 50th anniversary, we’re publishing images of front pages from the past five decades. Each week, we’ll feature a different year, showing how the paper has changed.

Earlier this week — on March 8 — northerners and all Canadians observed International Women’s Day, a day to focus attention on women’s rights, gender equality, reproductive rights, and violence against women.

This is a chance to look back at how women’s rights were making the news nearly 50 years ago.

In 1974, the headline “Council advances women’s rights” described the proposed changes in the Northwest Territories, which at that time still included what is now Nunavut.

Elsewhere in the news, Inukshuk reported that oil and gas prices might go up by 50 per cent in the fall. In Frobisher Bay, a 21-cent-a-gallon increase would drive the price up to 58 cents a gallon. (That’s equivalent to about 15.3 cents a litre).

In Baker Lake, gas prices were predicted to be even higher at 60 cents a gallon (or 15.8 cents a litre).

Also on the front page — instructions about voting hours for the July 8 federal election. Polls were scheduled to be open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., something the paper reported as “a little strange.”

The length of the polling period was the result of an Elections Act provision to standardize hours in ridings that span two time zones. The N.W.T. riding, in fact, covered three time zones.

In the election that would be held a week later, Canadians re-elected prime minister Pierre Trudeau, the father of the current PM, in a minority government. N.W.T. voters re-elected New Democrat Wally Firth as their member of Parliament.

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