Rose Stanton was twenty years old and pregnant in 1974 when she sublet a house in Centretown Ottawa from the Ottawa Women’s Centre. The sublet led to an invitation to the centre’s first anniversary party. The party was Rose’s first encounter with feminists and lesbians and suddenly, the angst of her adolescence and her crushes on other girls made sense and she came out as a lesbian.
The only places lesbians could gather in public in Ottawa in 1974 were the Coral Reef on Thursday nights and the Lesbian drop-in at the Ottawa Women’s Centre on Friday night. Attending the drop-ins led Rose to become involved with the feminist movement, Gays of Ottawa (GO), and the Coalition for Gay Rights in Ontario (CGRO). Alongside other lesbians and gay men, she marched for gay and women’s rights in Ottawa, Montreal, Kingston, Toronto, and Halifax; she organized and deejayed dances; she facilitated coming-out groups; she was part of the team that produced the cable tv show “Out of the Closets” in 1977; she was an organizer for Celebration ’79.
Rose was a founding member of Lesbians of Ottawa Now (LOON) and, with other members of LOON, organized lesbian conferences in 1976 and 1978. She also produced and deejayed LOON dances for women at the Townhouse Motor Hotel every second Friday night for over a year in the late 70s.
Rose’s feminism led her to work with adult women survivors of childhood violence. As a member of Women’s Urgent Action, she helped organize vigils for murdered women which led to the establishment of the Women’s Monument at Minto Park as a place to memorialize the women murdered in Montreal on December 6, 1989, and local women murdered by men.
Rose’s interest in oppression and human rights, developed through her work with GO, LOON and the feminist movement, led her to Carleton University where she obtained undergraduate and graduate degrees in Social Work. Her studies focussed on anti-oppression practice, particularly counselling practice with trauma survivors.
After moving to BC in 1998, her anti-oppression perspective informed her work as a coroner and as a manager at the office of the Ombudsperson of BC, where people without a voice or access to power bring their complaints. She has recently retired from public service and is running for public office in the 2018 BC municipal elections.