The Nellie McClung 150 Women Trailblazer Awards
By Myrna Driedger
Published in the March, 2021 Lifestyles 55
The Nellie McClung Foundation is an organization close to my heart. Created through one of my Private Members’ Bills in 2003, this organization has evolved and grown its mandate over the years. At its inception, the Nellie McClung Foundation was created to raise funds to place a monument on the grounds of the Manitoba Legislature. Manitoba has a very proud history of strong women advancing important causes. In fact, our province was the first place in Canada to grant most women the right to vote, an accomplishment that came from many years of hard work by Nellie and her peers. What an important cause to honour through art for all Manitobans to enjoy. The Nellie McClung Foundation worked with a Ms. Helen Granger Young in order to depict Nellie and the Famous Five working hard together. This monument can be seen on the west side of the legislative grounds next to Osborne Street. I encourage you all to take a walk and look at this wonderful piece of art up close.
Once the Famous Five monument came to stand on the grounds, the Nellie McClung Foundation evolved to focus on supporting and promoting women in a different way. The Nellie McClung Foundation’s latest initiative is the Manitoba 150 Women Trailblazer Awards. 2020 was the 150th anniversary of Manitoba becoming a province. We have a proud history of strong women leaders and this exciting endeavour sought to celebrate the women in our province both past and present. Often, women are unsung heroes in our history. In creating this award, the Nellie McClung Foundation sought to acknowledge the contributions that Manitoba women have made in our province and brought us to where we are today. The guidelines to be nominated included:
A woman, or a collective of women, who have made an impact on the development of Manitoba. Women who made an impact on society, who are or were leaders and role models in the community, who reflected the spirit of Nellie McClung, and who spent a significant portion of time in Manitoba.
The Nellie McClung Foundation received hundreds of nominations that shone a spot light on many brilliant Manitoba leaders. These nominations were evaluated by an independent panel who had the very difficult task to choose the 150 women from a nomination list of over 300. What a difficult job that must have been! Due to COVID-19, the Nellie McClung Foundation is unable to honour these women in person, however the NMF looks forward to publishing a virtual book to celebrate all these amazing Manitoba women. The 150 Trailblazers were announced on the 105th anniversary of most Manitoba women gaining the right to vote, January 28, 2021.
I am honoured to have been nominated and chosen as a Manitoba 150 Trailblazer. The complete list of nominees can be found at Ournellie.com. I encourage you all to have a look at this list of amazing women.
Some of the other Trailblazers are: Helen ‘Ma’ Armstrong, Evelyn Hart, Taylor Morriseau, Muriel Smith, Diane Roussin, Mayor Anna Pazdzierski, Jessica Dumas, Agnès Roy, Lara Rae, Bernadette Smith, Carol Shields, Diane Redsky, Shirley Render, Sharon Carstairs, Jarita Greyeyes, Dayna Spiring, Margret Jonsdottir Benedictsson, and Evelyn Hart, just to name a few!
It’s not just individual women who were recognized. Nellie and her peers worked as a group to move forward their causes so it’s fitting that Manitoba groups and organizations were also named Trailblazers. Some of these include: Mentoring Artists for Women’s Art (MAWA), Council of Women of Winnipeg Inc., National Council of Jewish Women of Canada (NCJWC), Winnipeg Raging Grannies, Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, Women of the Fur Trade (including Thanadelthur/ Thanadeltth'er), The Partners of Patersons LLP, and The Shameless Circle.
For a full listing of the all Trailblazer award recipients and nominees, have a look at ournellie.com. I encourage you to check it out. We have an amazing history to be proud of. Keep in mind, there are so many community leaders working hard on important causes today. The spirit of Nellie McClung is alive and well in Manitoba!