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This article was published 9/7/2018 (1173 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
At the Celebrating Women Gala, on July 4 at the Viscount Gort, Winnipeg activist Ray Eskritt was honoured by the Provincial Council of Women of Manitoba with this year’s Not Afraid to Get My Hands Dirty Award.
The annual award is presented to a Manitoba woman who has demonstrated a creative activist response in an attempt to bring about social or political change for women.
Eskritt is active in the community in numerous ways, including as communications and development officer at West Broadway Community Ministry, and general manager at Lord Roberts Community Centre. She is the mastermind behind the 1JustCity’s PLARN Project which provides handmade sleeping mats, made out of recycled plastic bags, for homeless people, involving multiple communities as a tool to develop awareness and engagement. She is also the founding member of ChubRub, a body-positivity burlesque troupe celebrated for their fearless take on beauty myths and celebrating bodies of all sizes regardless of health status.
Born and raised in Dryden, Ont., the 32-year-old has an impressive list of community achievements.
"As a kid, I was forever being told by my parents that I didn’t need to make another person’s problem my problem. I’ve never mastered that skill. I just can’t help adding myself into fights that I feel are important," Eskritt said.
The seeds of activism were planted in high school just after 9/11, when her teacher got her involved in raising money for first responders who helped pull people from the wreckage. The following year, through Oxfam, she was helping the people of Afghanistan after the war was declared.
"It wasn’t like I could stop the war. I was 16 years old in a small northwestern Ontario town. But at least I could make sure that people who were hurting might hurt a little less," she explained.
She spent some time in Europe teaching English in Slovakia and living in a commune in England that supported economic development in Africa by selling second-hand clothing to shops in Poland. Proceeds funded everything from small shops to schools or farming projects led by small communities.
Eskritt returned home and obtained a degree in psychology from the University of Winnipeg, and a diploma in public relations and marketing. She’s currently working towards a master’s degree in philanthropy and non-profit management through Carleton University.
She’s on the board of directors of Spence Neighbourhood Association, the Make Poverty History Manitoba steering committee, and helps out when she can with Share the Magic, a charity providing books to low-income Manitobans.
She credits her partner Matt Gillies, for standing by her side through it all.
"This award wouldn’t have happened without him," she said.
St. Boniface community correspondent
Janine LeGal is a community correspondent for St. Boniface.