On Jan. 28, 1916, Manitoba women became the first in Canada to win the right to vote and to hold provincial office.
In celebration of this pivotal milestone in history, on Jan. 28, 2016, the Nellie McClung Foundation, in partnership with the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, will be hosting a Centennial Gala: Celebrating 100 Years of Manitoba Women’s Right to Vote.
This once-in-a-lifetime event will be held at the RBC Convention Centre Winnipeg. The highlight of the evening’s program will be the presentation of the inaugural Nellie Awards (The Nellies), presented in part by the Winnipeg Free Press, recognizing Manitoba women who have followed Nellie McClung’s footsteps through their work in social justice, women’s and human rights.
As the founder of the Nellie McClung Foundation, which was created through a private member’s bill in 2003, I am so happy to see these events unfold. The purpose of the foundation was twofold: one was to raise the money needed to create and erect a monument commemorating the work of Nellie McClung on the grounds of the Manitoba legislature. This monument was unveiled in 2010. The second purpose was to educate and inspire others, especially women and girls, based on Nellie’s passion and achievements in the pursuit of women’s rights and also human rights.
As a woman in politics, I also wanted us all to do a better job of recognizing women’s contributions in their struggle for equality and in their struggles to make our communities better for everybody. Because of Nellie’s accomplishments, I am considered a person, I have the right to hold public office, and I have the right to vote. Pretty powerful stuff.
While Nellie achieved significant ground for women, she did it with notable humour. The mock Parliament, where the roles of men and women were reversed, was brilliant. In recognition of this famous mock Parliament, there will be a re-enactment of this famous event on Oct. 18, at 7 p.m. at the Prairie Theatre Exchange. "Let Them Howl" will showcase the talent and comedic skills of 35 of Manitoba’s best-loved leaders, celebrities, entrepreneurs and notables. Tickets may be purchased at www.ournellie.ca/letthemhowl or call 204-942-5483.
Honouring the contributions of Manitoba women is vital. Nellie McClung is an important example of the incredible work both rural and urban Manitoba women have done to enhance our quality of life, strengthen the democratic process and improve society as a whole.