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The Nellie McClung Foundation: Twenty Years Celebrating Women

The Nellie McClung Foundation was created to acknowledge and raise awareness of the contributions of Nellie McClung and her famous friends. These were important Canadians who assisted in advancing the cause of women in this province and country, and who created opportunities for all citizens for generations to come.


2003: The Nellie McClung Foundation is Created

On December 4, 2003, through a Private Member's Bill, the Manitoba Legislature created a foundation that would erect a monument for Nellie McClung at the Legislature, serving to educate the public about her achievements. Together with the founding Chair the Honourable Janice C. Filmon. O.C., O.M., MLA Driedger assembled an exemplary team of men and women who commissioned the artist and the foundry; reviewed and selected monument concepts; raised funds; managed promotions; and developed the site.


The Famous Five Monument Was Finally Unveiled in 2010.


The Nellie McClung Foundation monument featuring Nellie McClung and the ‘Famous 5’ sits on the grounds of the Manitoba Legislature and was sculpted by Winnipeg artist Helen Granger Young


Nellie McClung Foundation: 2012 – 2013

Several requests were filled for speaking about the Foundation and the history of Nellie for community groups such as the Provincial Council of Women.

An educational Pink Tea was held at the University Women's Club for members of women's groups to provide an update and alert them to the available Funds and Awards.

The Women of The Education Committee's focus in 2012 was as follows:

Continuing to identify material and other resources related to the topics of Nellie McClung, the suffrage movement, and women's rights in Canada for students and adults. These include.

  • Books including McClung's autobiographies, biographies and fictional and non-fictional writing Material posted online.

  • Archived turn-of-the-century and early 1900 newspapers   

 2016: Celebrating 100 Years of Manitoba Women’s Right to Vote

A momentous Canadian human rights milestone took place on January 28th, 2016, it was 100 years ago on this day that some Manitoba women were the first in Canada to be awarded the right to vote. The Nellie McClung Foundation recognized the occasion with a year of celebration, beginning with the Centennial Gala: Celebration 100 Years of MB Women’s Right to Vote, in partnership with the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, taking place at the RBC Convention Centre, Winnipeg, MB


Faces and Places: Trailblazing Women of Manitoba

In 2019, The Nellie McClung Foundation Board of Directors released Faces and Places: Trailblazing Women of Manitoba, a walking tour guide of the monuments and murals in Manitoba that hold the stories of women who helped make Manitoba’s history and whose achievements were critical to the development of this province. This ninety-four-page book is packed with women’s stories and interesting destinations. The book remained on the McNally Robinson best-seller book list for three weeks.

As well in 2019, the Board put out a call to the community to submit nominations for the 150 Manitoba Women Trailblazer Awards. These awards were intended to be presented in conjunction with the 150th anniversary of Manitoba becoming a province. The Foundation wanted to provide an opportunity to salute the contributions that Manitoba women have made to social justice, arts, sports, politics, community activities and promoting democracy while developing this great province. These Trailblazer Awards honour Nellie McClung’s vision by recognizing the spirit of her life’s work being advanced by women leaders of today or throughout Manitoba’s history.


The 150 Manitoba Women Trailblazer Awards

In 2021, the 150 Manitoba Women Trailblazer Award event was finalized with the publication of a virtual book accessible through the Nellie McClung Foundation Website. It was and continues to be the intent of the Foundation to host an in-person event to recognize and honour the Trailblazer recipients.

These women were nominated by members of their communities because they were first in their field or had a significant impact on their profession or community. There is no doubt that many of these women in our past have, at different times, held views that do not accord with today’s views. Learning the history of these trailblazing women helps us gain a greater understanding of the challenges they faced to risk and defy the status quo at the time, yet inspires greater love, compassion and learning for misunderstandings and imperfections for future generations. Nonetheless, the purpose of this project was to acknowledge the contribution of women, many of whom are unknown, to the development of our province.


2022: The ‘Yes I Can’ Leadership Initiative Launches

The 'Yes I Can' leadership initiative launched with a video series that premiered on October 11th, 2022, for the 10th anniversary of International Day of the Girl. The Foundation was again able to provide ten (10) scholarships to self-identified female students. To celebrate, a recognition event was hosted at Government House with the Honourable Janice Filmon officiating the presentation ceremony. It was an experience remembered and cherished not only by the scholarship recipients but by everyone in attendance.

In recognition of the 10th anniversary of the International Day of the Girl, the Nellie McClung Foundation recognized the occasion with the launch of a video series called 'Yes I Can' featuring the stories of five dynamic young women aged 16-25.

A watch party was held in November 2022 to showcase the inaugural 'Yes I Can' video series. Graciously hosted by Inn at the Forks, the watch party invited the participants and their families to watch the videos on the 'big screen' and celebrate with the team that made it all possible.

The ‘Yes I Can’ video series can be found at

Also in 2022, the Foundation was successful in again providing $13,750 in scholarships to ten (10) self-identified female high school and post-secondary students. To celebrate, a recognition event was hosted at Government House with the Honourable Janice Filmon officiating the presentation ceremony.


Nellie's Ongoing Initiatives


Faces and Places: Trailblazing Women of Manitoba Walking Guidebook

Buried in many of the monuments and murals in Manitoba are the stories of women who helped make Manitoba’s history, and whose achievements were critical to the development of this province. We developed this book to develop a history book/guide that promotes visiting the places, seeing the faces, and remembering the stories of Manitoba women who have made history— and whose lives so well-lived proved that, by working together and supporting one another, we can all make change for the better. The book is available at McNally Robinson.


The Winnipeg Foundation Nellie McClung Foundation Endowment Fund

Established to support a monument commemorating Nellie McClung on the grounds of the Manitoba Legislature. Ninety percent of initial gifts to the fund went directly to completing the monument. The remaining ten percent and any gift after completion is pooled and invested. The income generated is distributed to support the work of the Nellie McClung Foundation as well as an education website, events, awards, and scholarships.


The Nellie McClung Foundation Bursary Awards at Universities

Established by the Nellie McClung Foundation, gifts to this fund are invested in perpetuity and the annual income generated provides a bursary, of $1,500 annually to a woman at the University of Manitoba and the University of Winnipeg who is undertaking a program in Political or Women’s Studies that will help towards the advancement of Women.


Developed Curriculum Material & Learning Resources

Produced curriculum material and learning resources for teachers and students using the material researched and the Manitoba Social Studies Curriculum Documents for Grades 6, 9 and 11 classes as general guides.


‘Let Them Howl’ By Sharon Bajer

This play is a retelling and re-enactment of the famous ‘mock parliament’ play that featured Nellie McClung and her peers in the Political Equality League. The performance of the original play was a turning point in the struggle for suffrage and most people think that there is a script that can be used to tell this wonderful story, alas there is not, until now.

Playwright Sharon Bajer has brought together Nellie’s writings and news from the day to create this cheeky story of a group of women who took on the roles of men and assured the audience, in mocking what they had just heard from the Premier, “Nice men do not want to vote.” It has been purposefully designed – both in length and in style- to be used in classrooms and for groups who want to take the ‘voting’ message to their colleagues.

The inaugural performance of the play took place on October 18, 2015, with 31 of Winnipeg’s women leaders participating in its reading. An encore performance was held at the Burton Cumming’s Theatre (originally the Walker Theatre) on January 20, 2019, performed by students from Winnipeg. Since then, the play has been performed by groups to audiences across Canada.


The New Nellie McClung Website is Launched.

In 2019, we relaunched our website. This extensive website contains information about Nellie McClung; the work of the Foundation; anecdotal timeliness about Nellie’s history; as well as the history of women’s rights in Canada, the Political Equality League, and women’s firsts. Along with the curriculum developed for educators.

Nellie McClung Trailblazer Scholarship

These awards are for self-identified female students considering careers in the exciting fields of science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM), business or underrepresented trades. Careers in these areas offer excellent job opportunities, great earning potential and stimulating work environments. Click here to learn more


The Nellie McClung Foundation: Celebrating 20 Years!

The Nellie McClung Foundation will be celebrating its 20th Anniversary in 2024, marking two decades of dedicated existence. We are eagerly preparing for a momentous event to commemorate this significant milestone.

Stay tuned for forthcoming updates and comprehensive information about our special 20th-anniversary celebration. Your continued support is greatly appreciated as we embark on this remarkable journey.



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