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18 Trailblazing Women Honoured in Manitoba

Article reposted from the Winnipeg Sun

(Left to right) Former MLAs Bonnie Mitchelson and Roseway Vodrey view the Trailblazers Wall on the second floor west hallway at the Manitoba Legislature in Winnipeg on Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018. A special project undertaken by the Education and Outreach Program of the Manitoba Legislative Assembly, it honours Manitoba Legislative Assembly women “Trailblazers of the First 100 Years”. The wall celebrates the achievements of 18 women who were in positions traditionally held by men or who have worked to forge new pathways for women.

Eighteen female legislative trailblazers were honoured on the second floor Trailblazers Wall at the Manitoba Legislature on Tuesday, celebrating the achievements of women who were or are in positions traditionally held by men or worked to forge new pathways for women.

“To be recognized for the opportunities that we had, the efforts that we put in, it feels wonderful,” said honouree Rosemay Vodrey, who represented Fort Garry from 1990 to 1999 and was the first woman to serve as Minister of Justice and Attorney General. “I couldn’t stop smiling. To see a permanent installation where people will see that women are interested (in politics and government) and they do want to be a part. Let’s hope (it inspires other women).”

Since women were granted the right to vote in Manitoba on Jan. 28, 1916, only 51 women have been elected to the Legislature as MLAs and only a small number have served as Officers of the Legislative Assembly. In the hall adjacent to the Legislative Chamber, the wall exhibit recognizes those trailblazers of the first 100 years. The project was started two years ago.

Twelve female MLAs were honoured who achieved firsts in Manitoba legislative history, ranging from Manitoba’s first female MLA Edith Rogers to Amanda Lathlin, the first Indigenous woman elected. Six officers were also celebrated including former Auditor General Carol Bellringer and current Chief Electoral Officer Shipra Verma.

“You can’t be what you can’t see,” said Manitoba Speaker and honouree Myrna Driedger. “Girls and young women who are looking at what they might want to be don’t see themselves in certain things because they don’t see their role models. They don’t see somebody who might inspire them. With showcasing this, I hope it will excite and inspire more women to say, ‘Hey, I can do that, I can be one. She’s just like me.’ ”


Edith Rogers – first woman elected as MLA.

Elin Salome Halldorson – first Icelandic woman elected.

Thelma Forbes – first female speaker, first female cabinet member.

Muriel Smith – first female Deputy Premier.

Sharon Carstairs – first woman to lead an Official Opposition Party.

Bonnie Mitchelson – longest serving female MLA, only woman to lead the provincial Progressive Conservative party.

Rosemary Vodrey – first woman appointed as Minister of Justice and Attorney General.

Rosann Wowchuk – first female Agriculture Minister, first female Minister of Finance.

Myrna Driedger – founder of Nellie McClung Foundation, first Manitoban to chair the Canadian Region of Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians.

Theresa Oswald – first female Minister of Health.

Flor Marcellino – first visible minority woman elected and first appointed to cabinet, only woman to lead NDP.

Amanda Lathlin – first Indigenous woman elected.

Carol Bellringer – first female Auditor General.

Patricia Chaychuk – first female Clerk of the Manitoba Legislative Assembly.

Irene Hamilton – first female Provincial Ombudsman.

Janet Mirwaldt – first female Children’s Advocate.

Shirley Strutt – first female Legislative Counsel.

Shipra Verna – first female Chief Electoral Officer.

*Nellie McClung Foundation Note:  September 1-18 we will be posting daily biographies on each of the women that were honoured. Stay tuned!

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