Meet Gina Spence: Mother, problem solver, community nurturer

In celebration of International Women's Day 2023, meet nine remarkable Manitoba women who are making a difference.

'Intergenerational trauma stopped at us. It stopped at our family,' says Cross Lake First Nation member

Illustrated portrait of a woman wearing a purple hoodie. Her brown hair is pulled back and she has green-framed glasses. There is braided green grass in the background framing her.
'[I'm most proud of] the way my husband and I raised our five children ... who are so kind-hearted, loving, caring,' says Gina Spence. (Joanna Turner)

This is one of nine profiles on outstanding Manitoba women in honour of International Women's Day. The CBC Creator Network project was written by Carmen Ponto and illustrated by artist Joanna Turner. Some answers have been edited for space and clarity.

Gina Spence, 40, is a Cree mother of five, band member of Cross Lake First Nation and co-ordinator of urban Indigenous initiatives in Thompson. She is a champion of her community, ensuring that members feel like they are cared for and belong. 

What accomplishment are you most proud of? 

The way my husband and I raised our five children. They range from ages three to 21.

We have children who are so kind-hearted, loving, caring. I always say, intergenerational trauma stopped at us. It stopped at our family.

My family never went through residential schools, but my husband's family did. We work together to ensure that his well-being is taken care of so that he can give our kids the care they need.

We have children who are so kind-hearted, loving, caring.- Gina Spence

Tell me a time when you thought, "I've got this."

I started the status card program for the non-profit organisation I work for, MKO [Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak]. 

I was noticing that people in Thompson were having a hard time obtaining their status cards for themselves or their children. So we started the status cards program, where we help them do that.

I saw a need for guarantors in our community, and I went out and got my ministry so that I can sign the guarantor forms. I know so many people in my community, that it just made sense for me to be that person. 

An image of eight, illustrated women with purple crocuses in celebration of International Women's Day 2023.
In celebration of International Women's Day, meet Manitoba women who are living with purpose and meaning. They are passionate about what they do and want to make the lives of people around them better. (Joanna Turner)

Her story: Meet 8 more remarkable Manitoba women


Carmen Ponto

Filmmaker, writer, producer

Carmen Ponto is a freelance journalist living in Winnipeg. She studied journalism at the College of the North Atlantic in Newfoundland and occasionally creates documentary films with her partner. She is mom to two young kids and has a background in social work.