Nellie McClung's legacy still at work in Canadian politics 100 years later
On Thursday, it's the centennial of women's suffrage in Manitoba — a turning point McClung brought about
Marcia McClung is in Winnipeg to celebrate the centennial of some women getting the right to vote — a turning point her grandmother, Nellie McClung, brought about in Manitoba.
"It's historically very significant for all Canadians," Marcia said on Wednesday.
"But, for me of course there's an extra sense of pride because my grandmother played such an important role, as did other women here in Winnipeg."
Standing beside a snow-covered statue of The Famous Five at the Manitoba legislative grounds, Marcia said that her grandmother saw women's suffrage as a "lever" for all women to participate fully in the political process.
Of course, that did not happen for a number of years.
In 2015, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau created a gender-balanced federal cabinet — a sign of hope, if not an indication that there is still work to be done to create equality for women in politics.
Canada's Indigenous Peoples did not get the right to vote provincially until the 1950s and federally, until 1960.
While women's suffrage is celebrated in the city, Jacqueline Romanow, chair of Indigenous Studies at the University of Winnipeg, said it's important to remember that many women were excluded from the initial victory.
"People question why is there mistrust between First Nations and the Canadian government, without understanding that there are a lot of reasons throughout history for this mistrust," she said.
"It didn't just happen because of one factor in particular. This is part of something bigger."
Still, Jodi Giesbrecht, manager of research and curation at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, said the anniversary is a meaningful one.
"I mean, at that point women weren't persons under the law," she said, referring to time that preceded women's suffrage.
"So, not only could they not vote, they couldn't hold office. A lot of their rights were tied to husbands or fathers."
Back at the legislative grounds, Marcia spoke of her grandmother and the rest of The Famous Five as women who got together to talk about ideas, writing lengthy letters to each other in the time in between.
On Thursday, she said she hopes others will think about the importance behind the right to vote.
"That's how people can really affect change and Nellie McClung herself would say that," she said.