As one of British Columbia's most integral grass roots feminists, Mary Billy was the editor of Herspectives magazine from 1989-1995, a quarterly publication that provided a lively forum for a broad range of women until it ceased publication in 1995. She had attended West Coast Women & Words Writing School and Retreat at UBC in 1988, during which she discovered herself as a writer. She has been strongly influenced by Margaret Laurence and the poetry of Al Purdy.

In 1998 Mary Billy was one of 20 women from around the world to be awarded the International Helen prize, named after Dr. Helen Caldicott, which honors "ordinary women for their many heroic, significant, but often unrecognized contributions to the quality of life on our planet."; Mary Billy was honored for mentoring young women, for her many years as a feminist/activist and for keeping The Femicide List, a list of the names and incidents of women and girls murdered by men in Canada. In 2000 she passed the job of updating this list to Yvonne Maes of West Vancouver.

Mary E. Billy has self-published She is Carved in Stone (2009), Under My Blue Hat (Herspectives, 2001); In The Turning: Summer Journal of a Sojourner in the Women's Movement (Herspectives, 1986) and Over The Falls (Herspectives Publishing, 1998).

When she was retired in Squamish, she kept herself busy creating and producing Happy International Women's Day greeting cards, making dishcloths for The Stephen Lewis Foundation on HIV/AIDS in Africa and contributing to The Defiant Women's Support Fund.

She died peacefully on April 12, 2015 after being hospital five days. In January of 2018 a friend wrote an addendum to her obituary notice on BCBookLook: "Mary, Mary, Mary.... I want to holler from the top of Stawamus Chief.... I miss you Mary. It has been almost three years since your death and you visit me in my heart and mind regularly. You would love the #Me Too movement... and Timesup.... right up your alley. You were a visionary, you shone with courage and we all were the beneficeries. Last time I and a fellow pilgrim visited you in Squamish, you sent us off for a bit so you could take a nap. We brought back heaps of salmon berries and feasted, glorying in their gorgeous sheen and luscious juiciness. You were one luscious, gorgeous woman, Mary Billy."

DATE OF BIRTH: May 31, 1936

PLACE OF BIRTH: Abbotsford, BC

ANCESTRAL BACKGROUND: Father - Ireland. Mother - Scotland


BIBLIOGRAPHY: Self-published under Herspectives Publishing

She is Carved in Stone - poetry - 2009
Under My Blue Hat - poetry - 2001
Over the Falls - poetry - 1998
(Second printing - 1998. Third printing - 2001)
In the Turning; Summer Journal of a Sojourner in the Women's Movement - 1986

[Alan Twigg / BCBW 2018] "Women" "Poetry"