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

The Nellie McClung Foundation was created in order 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.

 

 

Nellie’s work had previously been recognized through memorials in Ottawa and in Calgary, not within the province where the seeds of her ideas and their work took root. That is, until the unveiling of the Nellie McClung Foundation Monument in Winnipeg.

The idea for the project began in 2002-2003 with MLA Myrna Driedger, then critic for the Status of Women, who was charged with looking at various women’s issues in the province of Manitoba. She identified Nellie McClung as a significant yet largely unrecognized contributor to the life of women in this province. In speaking with grassroots women’s organizations and individuals, she discovered it was time to find some way to honour Nellie’s contributions.

Driedger, along with Opposition Leader Stuart Murray and MLA Frank Pitura, drafted a private member’s bill for the Manitoba Legislature to create a foundation that would erect a monument for Nellie McClung at the legislature, serving to educate the public about her achievements. Support for this bill was concurrently received from the Manitou-Pembina Cultural and Heritage Committee. Their focus was primarily on Nellie McClung, who had married and taught school in Manitou.

The private member’s bill received unanimous approval on its first reading and it passed on December 4, 2003. Following this, the Nellie McClung Foundation was officially constituted on September 15, 2006.

 

Why the Famous 5?

Nellie McClung lived in Manitoba from 1880 – 1914 (34 years), and this was where the seeds of her ideas and the foundation of her ideals took shape. To achieve our goals, we believe that our monument and our educational efforts must emphasize not only the Manitoba sphere of her life, but also her national significance and influence. It must act as a springboard for further dialogue about the rights, achievements, and status of women. The scene we have chosen with Nellie among the Famous Five accomplishes all of this: it depicts her at the very pinnacle—the most symbolic moment—

of her political career, alongside a handful of women whose shared ideas and beliefs she had passionately championed around the world. In this scene, Nellie McClung is putting her own name to the petition that supported the idea that the time had come for women to be recognized as persons. She was a pivotal figure in these efforts; framed by these important women, she is the pivotal figure in this scene.