Manitoba women were awestruck as they entered the Nellie Awards gala held Thursday night at the RBC Convention Centre. The event celebrated 100 years of Manitoba women's right to vote, and the ballroom was decorated as it would have been in 1916.

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This article was published 1/2/2016 (2185 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.


Manitoba women were awestruck as they entered the Nellie Awards gala held Thursday night at the RBC Convention Centre. The event celebrated 100 years of Manitoba women's right to vote, and the ballroom was decorated as it would have been in 1916.


Events by Emma used raised centrepieces of flower bouquets and bubbling water bowls more than a metre above the tables. The stage glowed with a golden backdrop and was criss-crossed with drapery -- a true Victorian ballroom.

Entertainment Tonight Canada host Cheryl Hickey flew in to be the MC and Nellie McClung's granddaughter, Marcia McClung, sat with political VIPs looking a little like Nellie herself.

Mayor Brian Bowman brought greetings and referred proudly to his "rock-star wife" at the podium.

Ten Nellies were given out -- five to urban women and five to rural women. The recipients were: Dr. Jessie Lang, who bucked tradition by getting her bachelor of arts in mathematics in 1937 and a second degree in social work. At 99, she continues to educate people about multiple sclerosis; Beatrice Watson, a "champion of peace, equality and justice," especially for immigrant and refugee women; Wilma Derksen, who, since the abduction and murder of her daughter Candace in 1984, has founded many groups to help families cope; Connie Magnusson Schimnowski, a social worker known for her work in palliative care who developed Camp Stepping Stones for young people who've lost a significant person in their lives; Susan Hart Kulbaba, who has devoted her life to the eradication of gender-based discrimination, workers' rights and social justice; Dr. Alexandra Wilson of Opaskwayak Cree Nation, a Harvard graduate known for her work on the identity development of two-spirited people, and the creation of a master's program in land-based education; Shirley Kalyniuk, the first female municipal politician in the Town of Rossburn, who was elected in 1983 and retired as mayor in 2014; Dr. Rayleen De Luca, a clinical psychologist whose work has helped hundreds of women and girls who have been sexually abused; and Sherri Walsh, a lawyer and university professor, known for her work as commission counsel to the Phoenix Sinclair inquiry. A group award went to the 105-year-old Manitoba Women's Institute, which has encouraged the spirit of Nellie McClung in modern times and strongly supported the suffragette movement.

Nellie Legacy Awards were presented to Gail Asper, president and trustee of the Asper Foundation, and Lt.-Gov. Janice Filmon.

SPOTTED: Margaret Lavallee, who gave a moving elder reflection; centennial gala co-chairs Myrna Driedger and Dana Oftedal; Lila Goodspeed, chairwoman of the Nellie McClung Foundation; board member Doris Mae Oulton; Winnipeg Free Press publisher Bob Cox; and Shannon Sampert, the Free Press's perspectives and politics editor.

STARRY STARRY NIGHT: Date With a Star, one of the most inventive annual galas in Winnipeg, took place Wednesday. Organized by the Learning Disabilities Association of Manitoba, the soiree is sponsored by local businesses; dining groups are paired with a secret star to go out for dinner that night at fine-dining restaurants all over the city.

The evening began with a cocktail party in a Fort Garry Hotel ballroom, which included a video about the Learning Disabilities Association of Manitoba's activities, a performance by singer-songwriter JD Edwards, and association president Richard Coutts and executive director Marilyn MacKinnon drawing names for door prizes, which included a trip for two anywhere WestJet flies.

SPOTTED: Entertainment superstar Fred Penner eating (what else?) tiny sandwiches while hosting the cocktail-party bash. This year's celebrity table hosts included Dave Landreth of the Bros. Landreth; Steve Adams and Jenna Khan from Energy 106; and Royal Winnipeg Ballet dancer Arlene Minkhorst. Also making the scene were former Blue Bombers Kelly Butler and Doug Brown; Larry McIntosh of Peak of the Market; Shaw TV's Tracy Koga; Free Press humour columnist Doug Speirs; 99.9 Bob-FM's Beau and Heather; singer-songwriter JP Hoe; ceramic artist Jordan Van Sewell; George Belanger of Harlequin; Kelly Parker from Fab 94.3; Wheeler and Rena from 92 Citi-FM; 99.9 Bob-FM's Sabrina Carnevale; UFO expert Chris Rutkowski; singers Renée Lamoureux and Sheena Grobb; University of Manitoba football coach Brian Dobie; and Free Press reporter Kevin Rollason.

The Free Press table met with magician Brian Glow as its celebrity host at Corydon Avenue Italian restaurant Mano a Mano. The international performer was peppered with questions about his illusions during course after course of scrumptious food. Then he graciously did some card tricks as the grown-ups watched like kids at a birthday party.

Our Winnipeg Free Press gang included director of marketing Iain Coates; the advertising department's Clara Cooke, Janet Beach and Tracey Woodward; and director of national sales Kim Warburton.

LOOK UP! Canadian all-star comics Erica Sigurdson, Jen Grant, Christina Walkinshaw and Rebecca Kohler are presenting an all-female show called My Jokes Are Up Here Feb. 12 at the Club Regent Event Centre. Tickets are $26.25-$36.75 at Ticketmaster.

This foursome has also added Winnipeg's Bunny -- a ukulele comedy duo with raunchy lyrics -- to the bill. Lara Rae, the founder of the Winnipeg Comedy Festival, was asked to host. The concert follows three local all-female open-mike comedy nights hosted by Dana Smith at Jekyll & Hyde's that drew more than 20 comics to the stage.

Says Rae: "It's all part of the momentum with women going on in comedy -- and it's positive, in my view. It's going on in Toronto and other safe and inclusive rooms where people don't get singled out and feel slighted because of something different not shared by the dominant culture."


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Maureen Scurfield

Maureen Scurfield
Advice columnist

Maureen Scurfield writes the Miss Lonelyhearts advice column.