19 June 2010

Nellie McClung returns to Manitoba Legislature

Nellie McClung, perhaps Canada's leading figure in the fight for women's rights, returned to the Manitoba Legislature this week, to the same building where 96 years ago she began her campaign to convince the government that women should be allowed to vote. She returned, not in the flesh, but commemorated in bronze. A statue of Nellie and the rest of the Famous Five was unveiled at the legislative building on Friday. It was here in Manitoba in 1916 that Canadian women, largely because of Nellie, first received the franchise. The federal government followed Manitoba's lead shortly thereafter. 

The Famous Five were the women who successfully petitioned for women's inclusion as persons in the British North American Act, making them equal to men in the eyes of the law. The statue at the legislature depicts the signing of the petition.

Nellie's interests went well beyond political rights. She campaigned for dental and medical care for school children, property rights for married women, mothers' allowances, factory safety legislation and many other causes. She was also a writer of note, author of much non-fiction and a number of novels, one of which, Sowing Seeds In Danny, became for a time the best-selling novel in Canadian history.

An accomplished and committed lady. A true hero, well-deserving of the honour Manitoba has bestowed.

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