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Announcing 5 Young Women as Recipients of 2nd Annual 'Yes I Can' Leadership Awards

The Nellie McClung Foundation is thrilled to announce the recipients of the prestigious 'Yes I Can' Leadership Awards. In response to the well-documented drop in self-confidence experienced by young girls during their teenage years, the Nellie McClung Foundation has actively taken strides to empower girls and young women, fostering their belief in the mantra, 'Yes, I Can.'

In commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the International Day of the Girl in 2022, the Nellie McClung Foundation introduced the 'Yes I Can' Leadership Award program. This initiative recognizes the remarkable achievements of five dynamic young women aged 16-25, spotlighting their accomplishments through a captivating video profile series.

These outstanding individuals are following in the footsteps of trailblazing women who came before them, making significant contributions to diverse fields, including science, business, politics, medicine, education, and beyond.

The video profiles of the award recipients will be launched weekly, beginning on October 11th. Each week will feature the compelling story of one of the following recipients:


Emily Walker is a dynamic Métis artist with a strong connection to Treaty One Territory. She holds a bachelor's degree in Music Theatre Performance from Sheridan College and has honed her skills through training at Toronto's Second City Conservatory program. As both a performer and a playwright, Emily excels at crafting compelling narratives and making audiences laugh. Her journey with the Pimootayowin Festival began as an actor and has now expanded to include her as a playwright, showcasing her versatility in the industry.

Emily's artistic journey has left an indelible mark on stages nationwide. She has collaborated with prestigious institutions like the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, Charlottetown Festival Young Company, Suitcase Theatre, Western Canada Theatre, Dry Cold Productions, Rainbow Stage, and the Hamilton Fringe Festival. As a Métis artist, Emily brings authenticity and reverence for her heritage to her work, serving as a cultural bridge between tradition and innovation. Her dedication to her craft and her commitment to sharing meaningful stories make her a true trailblazer in the performing arts. Emily's artistic evolution continues to flourish, promising more captivating performances and inventive creations that resonate deeply with audiences. Her work enriches, enlightens, and entertains, leaving a lasting impact on those fortunate enough to experience it.


Antonina Kandiurin, originally from Churchill, Manitoba, embarked on a life-changing educational journey when she moved over 1000 kilometres away to Winnipeg at the age of 17, becoming the first in her family to pursue post-secondary education. Despite the challenges of adjusting to a new city, Antonina found comfort in her involvement with the PERKS Council and the Indigenous Engagement Committee at the University of Manitoba.

Now, Antonina is making a significant impact as a Women's Group Leader at the Churchill Health Centre, part of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority. She plans to leverage her experiences from the University of Manitoba to create a safe and supportive space for women in her community to connect and improve their overall well-being. Antonina's passion extends to inspiring others to believe in themselves and pursue higher education. She is grateful to her Churchill and York Factory First Nation communities, as well as her parents and resilient grandmother, who continue to inspire her.

Antonina Kandiurin's journey exemplifies the transformative power of education and the capacity of one individual to create positive change in their community. Her story serves as an inspiration for others to chase their dreams and overcome obstacles.


Jessica Walker's passion for science and social justice ignited when she was just thirteen years old, prompting her to embark on a remarkable journey. She conceived a research project aimed at exploring the possibility of teaching empathy and compassion to children through education about farm animals. Her groundbreaking research, now published, revealed a profound truth: children can develop greater empathy for animals and each other when equipped with the knowledge to do so. For Jessica, the fundamental connection between the heart and the mind has always been paramount, and she firmly believed that personal interaction with farm animals could lead to transformative changes in people's beliefs and dietary choices. As the visionary Founder of the Little Red Barn Sanctuary, Jessica has turned her passion into a thriving reality. This sanctuary serves as a loving home to a diverse group of rescued farm animals, each of whom acts as an ambassador for their species. Through close encounters with these animals, Jessica aims to convey a powerful message: farm animals are not mere commodities but sentient beings deserving of compassion and respect. Her innovative initiative extends beyond animal welfare, with a ripple effect on people and the environment. By addressing the ethical and environmental concerns associated with factory farming, Jessica's work is a catalyst for positive change on multiple fronts. Jessica's dedication to bridging the gap between science, compassion, and social responsibility continues to inspire and educate countless individuals. Her unwavering commitment to promoting empathy and sustainability underscores her mission to create a better world for farm animals, humanity, and the planet.


Camila Quintanilla's journey from Peru to Winnipeg in March 2021 marked the beginning of an exciting chapter in her life. Her decision to relocate was driven by her pursuit of excellence in the field of hospitality and tourism management, as she enrolled in RRC Polytech's Hotel and Restaurant Management program, specializing in the Hospitality and Tourism Management diploma. Little did she know that her journey would lead to remarkable achievements and recognition.

In 2021, Quintanilla's exceptional dedication and performance earned her the coveted title of Co-operative Education Manitoba (CEM) Co-op Student of the Year. Her accomplishments did not stop there; she was also chosen as one of the 39 outstanding co-op students, selected from a pool of 80,000 candidates nationwide nominated for the prestigious Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning (CEWIL) Canada Student of the Year Award. This recognition is a testament to her passion and commitment to her chosen field. Moreover, her co-op experience culminated in a full-time job offer at Baked Expectations, a remarkable achievement for someone embarking on their very first work experience.

Camila Quintanilla's journey is a shining example of the transformative power of dedication, perseverance, and a commitment to excellence. Her achievements serve as an inspiration to aspiring professionals in the hospitality and tourism industry, showcasing the opportunities that await those who strive for excellence in their chosen path.


Stephanie Kalo's journey to becoming a CPA candidate has been marked by her unwavering commitment to community involvement and a relentless pursuit of personal growth. From a young age, she recognized the transformative power of participating in various activities as a means of supporting her community and charting her path toward a career in accounting. Stephanie's dedication to community service and her aspiration to give back has always been at the forefront of her journey.

During her high school years, she embraced a diverse range of fields, from health and science to business, as a way to gain valuable experience and connect with people from different backgrounds.

​In her current role as the Manager of Corporate Relations for the Commerce Students Association, Stephanie plays a pivotal role in bridging the gap between the Winnipeg business community and the aspiring talent within the Asper School of Business. Her role reflects her passion for fostering connections and facilitating opportunities for her fellow students to engage with the broader business world. Stephanie's commitment to building these vital connections exemplifies her dedication to not only her personal growth but also the growth and success of her peers.

Stephanie Kalo's journey is a testament to the power of community engagement and the profound impact it can have on one's personal and professional development. Her passion for connecting people, coupled with her pursuit of a career as a CPA, highlights her dedication to excellence and her unwavering commitment to making a positive difference in both the accounting field and her community. Stephanie's story serves as an inspiration for those who seek to create meaningful connections and give back while charting their own path to success.


The Nellie McClung Foundation’s mission is to empower women and girls to become leaders in Manitoba. You can help support our mission by donating today.


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