Activists headed to Ottawa


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This article was published 26/01/2017 (2142 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Nellie McClung said that she was “a believer in women, in their ability to do things and in their influence and power.”

McClung would be proud of the next generation of Manitoban women who are following in her footsteps.

Johise Namwira and Shania Pruden are 19-year-old Winnipeggers whose passion for social engagement and activism have set them on the road to Ottawa as part of Equal Voice’s Daughters of the Vote initiative.

SUPPLIED PHOTO Johise Namwira, 19, will be representing Kildonan-St. Paul at Equal Voices’ upcoming Daughters of the Vote events in Ottawa in March.

“We get to participate in a lot of stuff, network with each other and meet people from across the country,” said Pruden, a youth activist, blogger, and inspirational speaker who will be representing Elmwood-Transcona in Ottawa March 6 to 10.

According to their website, Equal Voices is “a national, bilingual, multi-partisan organization dedicated to electing more women to all levels of political office in Canada.” Equal Voices’s Daughters of the Vote initiative aims to both celebrate the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote federally in Canada and to connect and organize passionate young women from across the country.

Fourteen young women from Manitoba will be among the 338 national delegates representing each federal riding will travel to Ottawa to coincide with International Women’s Day on March 8.
Both Pruden and Namwira, representing Kildonan-St. Paul, are keen political activists who have taken part in the Manitoba Youth Parliament. Both applied to be a part of Daughters of the Vote on a whim.

“I was on social media, I was scrolling one day,” said Pruden, who is a youth ambassador for the NorWest Youth Hub and a speaker for We Day, among other social and activist pursuits. “My friend Sappfyre (Mcleod, delegate for Winnipeg Centre), she shared something about it. I thought, sure I’ll give it a go. The worst that can happen is I won’t get picked.”

“A friend told me about it,” said Namwira, a third year honours student in women’s and gender studies at the University of Manitoba who also teaches karate at the North Kildonan Mennonite Brethren Church. “It sounded like such an incredible initiative to honour women’s vote and learn from women who are politicians. I thought, why not?”

Namwira and Pruden got to meet the other Manitoban Daughters of the Vote at an all day event at the Manitoba Legislative Building on Jan. 24. After meeting the other delegates, participants met with former and sitting female MLAs and engaged in dialogue.

“It was amazing,” Namwira said. “One thing stuck out for me, women make up over half the population, but only represent 26 per cent of MPs. Our voice isn’t represented. How can we bring issues that concern us to table without representation? It was great to get those tips from people who’ve been there.”

“I’ve never seen so many inspiring people in one room,” Pruden said. “It was definitely something I’ll remember for a long time.”

“I’m especially proud that (Equal Voices) tried to make it diverse,” added Namwira who was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and moved to Canada with her family when she was two. “I’m a black person, and I was proud to see there were other black women from Manitoba represented.”

SUPPLIED PHOTO Shania Pruden, 19, will be representing Elmwood-Transcona at Equal Voices’ upcoming Daughters of the Vote events in Ottawa in March.

Both Namwira and Pruden said they are excited to meet so many inspiring young women, and are looking forward to further networking at the national forum in March.

“I’m really looking forward to connecting with other Indigenous participants,” Pruden said.

“There’s a lot of great youth movement here in Manitoba in so many different ways,” Namwira said. “We’re already thinking of the next event.”

Visit and for more information on Equal Voice and the Daughters of the Vote initiative.
Twitter: @heraldWPG

Sheldon Birnie

Sheldon Birnie
Community Journalist

Sheldon Birnie is a reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review. The author of Missing Like Teeth: An Oral History of Winnipeg Underground Rock (1990-2001), his writing has appeared in journals and online platforms across Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. A husband and father of two young children, Sheldon enjoys playing guitar and rec hockey when he can find the time. Email him at Call him at 204-697-7112

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