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This article was published 29/7/2016 (1590 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The West End BIZ’s efforts to beautify public spaces have complemented an important provincial anniversary.
On July 26, the organization unveiled a mural at 560 Sargent Ave. depicting women’s rights activist Nellie McClung and her colleagues in 1916, the year they were successful in receiving the vote for some women in the province. The mural, by artist Mandy Van Leeuwen, celebrates 100 years since some of the first women were allowed to vote not only in Manitoba, but Canada as a whole.
"We started planning this in January and began to paint in early June, so it took about a month and a half," Van Leeuwen said. "It was definitely a challenge, there are so many sides to this story, so we had to anchor it to one idea and get in the other elements that go with that."
She said the mural panels were attached to the building before she began her work, to determine whether the building could support their weight.
"There were some issues and we had to ensure longevity for the mural," she said.
Van Leeuwen worked with local experts such as Lila Goodspeed, chair of the Nellie McClung Foundation, in creating an accurate portrayal of that era.
"What would Nellie say today if she was here and saw the mural?" Goodspeed said. "She’d be very pleased. She was very future-focused and she would have been looking at what is the next issue? This is done, what’s next?"
Other dignitaries at the unveiling echoed the sentiment that while McClung’s success was a huge step for Canadian rights, there was still work to do, and still is today.
"1916 was just the beginning of the journey," Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba Janice Filmon said. "Many women, in particular our Indigenous women continued to be denied the right to vote on the basis of race, disability, employment or religion. The struggle for suffrage did not end for many years and for some cases, even decades later."
Even though all women have the right to vote in present-day Canada, the fight for justice is not over, MP Robert-Falcon Ouellette wrote in a note.
"The cause is never lost because the cause is never won," he wrote. "In each generation we must renew our efforts and begin again… as it is said, history bends towards justice."
"Let’s remember to teach and share our dynamic history with our young women so we can build strong communities," Minister responsible for Francophone Affairs and Status of Women Rochelle Squires said. "Let’s encourage women in our lives to take action on issues that are important to them, to stand up for what they believe it and get out there and vote."
The West End BIZ is slated to unveil two more murals this summer.
Community journalist — The Metro
Alana Trachenko was the community journalist for The Metro