ALL IN A NAME - How "ALL OUR SISTERS 2011" came to be

Excerpt from "ALL OUR SISTERS" authored by Susan Scott, 2007

It astonished Tonya that a person could be writing a book without a title. It also gratified her that I asked her to help in this respect. At the time, Tonya, 26, bright and studying nursing, was living in a Winnipeg shelter because of her addiction to crack. I was starting out on the interviews for a book on homeless women in Canada. "You mean I could help you?' she said. The next day she returned looking very excited. "I’ve got it; I’ve got it." She explained that women in her situation are treated like pariahs, at best they aren’t seen and at worst they are beaten and derided. "We’ve got to show that we are part of society just like everyone else," said Tonya. Her original title was a list of every conceivable female relative. Reluctantly, she agreed that it wouldn’t fit on a book cover and together we boiled it down to All Our Sisters because we felt the word "sister" was all-embracing. Other women across the country were so moved by the title they would weep. Several even said, "You see as us sisters!"

For a while Tonya and I kept in touch. Then someone sent me a newspaper clipping in which she was referred to in very derogatory terms – certainly not as a sister. I was saddened, but continued to leave messages for her. After the Winnipeg book launch, a friend and I went looking for Tonya to give her the book, but couldn’t find her. A few weeks later, she sent an email saying, "You used my title. Cool. Please send a copy," and then gave an address.
Shortly afterwards, Heather McDonald invited me to speak in London and the notion of sisterhood began to spread with the especially strong link to My Sister’s Place. When the quest for a conference title began, Tonya’s title seemed so appropriate it was irresistible. Thank you, Tonya.