Honorary degree citation - Renée Vautelet*
By: Russell Breen, November 1975
Mr. Vice Chancellor, I have the honour to present to you Mme. Renee Vautelet, a distinguished lady, who has made a remarkable contribution to Quebec Society and to Canada by her efforts to promote civil and consumer rights, social and cultural organizations, and inter-racial understanding.
Descended from a family which has produced eminent Cabinet Ministers and a noted King's Counsel, it was not surprising that she should show an early interest in political affairs. At seventeen she was on the newly-founded Quebec Liberal Women's Committee. From the start she was an ardent campaigner for women's suffrage. She worked with the first women's suffrage committee, which in 1917 got the vote for women with relatives overseas. Complete federal franchise came the following year. Marriage did not deter her, as she combined the task of raising two daughters with her work for the franchise and electioneering. More than twenty years later she was still pleading for the vote before the Public Bills Committee in Quebec. And when this long battle was won, she worked with no less vigour to extend the participation of women in public affairs.
Wartime saw her energetically involved in work in the War Finance Committee, the Block Plan on civil defense, the Red Cross and the Women's Volunteer Services. She helped to found and foster the Montreal French Family Welfare Agency (Bureau d'Assistance sociale aux familles), and the French Children's Library. In 1942 she was made a Commander of the British Empire for philanthropic and patriotic leadership.
The Quebec Government appointed her to the Economic Advisory Council to study postwar unemployment. She produced a unique report of the Economic Position on Women in Quebec. Wartime price controls gave birth to the idea of the Canadian Association of Consumers. A founding member, she took on the job of running it, French and English sections, first as Provincial President and then as National President from 1953-56.
This is a year when the stresses of partnership between the sexes are the foremost topic for debate, and the strains of partnership between the races of Canada fill the newspapers. It is a particularly appropriate time, therefore, to look to a woman with such a record of achievement, to a Canadian so totally in command in both languages, so much at ease in both cultures.
Her presence has been a source of inspiration in the Loyola community on the numerous occasions when she has conducted lectures and seminars - her ideas a fund of intellectual stimulation.
Mr. Vice-Chancellor, I am honoured to present to you on behalf of the University Senate, and by authority of the Board Governors, Mme. Renee Vautelet, C.B.E., that you may confer on her the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.