Celebrating 100 years of women's suffrage
Ben Miljure, CTV Winnipeg
Published Saturday, January 9, 2016 3:57PM CST
Last Updated Saturday, January 9, 2016 6:21PM CST
There was a time when Canadian women didn’t have the right to participate in democracy, but it came to an end 100 years ago when women in Manitoba blazed a trail for the rest of the country.
Sharon Erickson-Nessmith votes proudly, which is something her grandmother couldn’t always do.
"To me, it's always been important, and a privilege to do it,” she said. “And of course, if you're watching the rest of the world, you know that there are countries, even recently, where women haven't had a voice."
Erickson-Nessmith took her 11-year-old granddaughter Eva to the Manitoba Archives to learn about the suffrage movement.
Eva has also studied the issue in school and said she couldn’t believe there was a time when women weren’t allowed to vote.
"I didn't really know that before,” said Eva. “And I thought we had the same rights as boys, but then when I found that out, it was kind of shocking."
The Manitoba Archives opened its doors to the public Saturday to show off a collection of documents related to the suffrage movement.
The collection shows women campaigned for the right to vote as early as 1893 by using petitions and staging mock parliaments to demonstrate an understanding of political issues of the day.
Nellie McClung and other reformers even put on a satirical play imagining a world where it was men fighting for equal rights.
After decades of lobbying, women in Manitoba won the right to vote in 1916.
Other provinces quickly followed suit, and two years later so did the federal government.
Going door-to-door, meeting voters as she prepares to fight her first election, Liberal leader Rana Bokhari understands the value of the work McClung and her contemporaries did 100 years ago.
"I personally wouldn't be able to stand here today as a female leader had that not happened,” she said.
Deputy Premier Kerri Irvin-Ross has risen close to the top of Manitoba politics and she says the work begun during the women’s suffrage movement is still not finished.
"When you look at how many women have been elected over the years we still have a long way to go,” said Irvin-Ross. “We need 50 per cent representation and then we can say that we were successful."
The bill granting women the right to vote in Manitoba passed unanimously on Jan. 28, 1916.
Indigenous men and women in Canada did not attain the right to vote until 1960.