Women’s Institute earns a ‘Nellie’ award

The rural women’s group is one of 10 recipients of the award presented in honour of the influential Manitoba feminist

The Manitoba Women’s Institute is one of 10 recipients of the first-ever Nellie Awards presented by the Nellie McClung Foundation at its Centennial Gala late last month.

The awards made in honour of one of this province’s most influential feminists were given out January 28, the centennial of women in Manitoba earning the right to vote.

Call for nominations went out last fall for names of deserving women who have been leaders in contemporary society making contributions to social justice, promoting democracy and contributing to the arts.

A panel of judges selected from 66 nominees 10 deserving recipients.

Donna Young, MWI president said their organization is honoured to receive the award. It’s an important validation for their organization’s contributions to society over the years, she said.

“It’s so nice that someone has finally recognized that we’ve done so much in the rural communities for over 105 years,” she said.

The MWI marked its own centennial in 2010 in the town of the organization’s birthplace, Morris, Manitoba.

The MWI supported the suffragist movement through many types of grassroots advocacy and has long worked to improve the lives of women and families through its community-based advocacy. In 1916, it lobbied to bring about the passage of the 1916 Manitoba Dower Law to protect the property rights of a wife and it has a long track record of work to make health care and public health programs accessible for rural people. The organization has also helped establish libraries and safe houses for abused women and children, and lobbied for other improved health and safety measures such as visible coloured lines on provincial highways and side reflectors on freight trains.

It continues to put forward resolutions related to broad-based societal and agricultural issues at its annual conventions, and runs ongoing planned programs for the education of its members.

“Our women work constantly in their communities,” said Young, adding the MWI continues to work in the spirit of Nellie McClung who once stated, ‘women set the standards for the world, and it is for us, women in Canada, to set the standards high.’

The MWI’s provincial headquarters is located in Brandon while its 28 branches are spread out throughout rural Manitoba.

About the author

Reporter

Lorraine Stevenson is a reporter and photographer for the Manitoba Co-operator with 25 years experience writing news and features. She was previously a reporter with the Farmers Independent Weekly and has also written for community newspapers in Winnipeg and Manitoba's Interlake.

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