A Chilliwack woman has been elected into the top position of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF) in British Columbia.
Trudie Brisson is now the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of British Columbia, and the first woman to hold the title in the organization’s 200-year history. Brisson was elected earlier this year, and installed on May 11 at the Lodge Hall in Victoria.
Brisson has been a member of the IOOF since 1973, and holds several positions, including past president of the Rebekah Assembly. However, Grand Master will be the highest ranking title.
It’s a historic move by the IOOF, Brisson said, and she is honoured to have the role and to be the first woman elected.
The Odd Fellows have a long history of fraternity in Europe, and expanded to North America in 1819 when Thomas Wildy found other Odd Fellows in Baltimore, Maryland. The Odd Fellows fraternity was all about helping fellow general labourers who were hurt, or a spouse died, or needed assistance. They felt nobody else was helping.
Today, the goals of the IOOF are much the same. They raise money for education and give out scholarships and bursaries, as well as BC Children’s Hospital, visual research, arthritis, cancer and other needs as they arise.
Brisson says that at one time there was an Odd Fellow’s Lodge in nearly every town in B.C.
“Things got hard and folks got older and now our membership has shrunk,” she says. “But we are still doing all we can for our communities.”
The Chilliwack hall is at the corner of Reece and Fletcher, and several lodges meet there as well as the Rebekahs. For more information about Odd Fellowship, Brisson can be reached at 604-823-6578 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To see if there is an IOOF in your community, visit www.ioofbc.org.