Several Mennonite women are the recipients of the 150 Manitoba Women Trailblazer Awards. The Nellie McClung Foundation, in partnership with the Winnipeg Free Press, has distributed these awards to celebrate Manitoba’s 150th anniversary and the profound contributions women have made to the province’s development through the decades. Listed alongside the likes of Olympian Clara Hughes, Senator Mary Jane McCallum and the suffragette Nellie McClung herself, are:
• The women who created the first Mennonite Central Committee thrift shop. Selma Loewen, Sara Stoesz, Linie Friesen and Susan Giesbrecht founded the first thrift shop in Altona in 1972. It soon expanded into more than 100 shops across North America that generate millions of dollars annually to support MCC’s work.
• The Winnipeg Raging Grannies for Social Justice were also honoured with an award. Carolyne Epp-Fransen, who attends Home St. Mennonite Church in Winnipeg, is a member of the group that supports causes like environmental justice and human rights through song and other forms of activism, all while wearing big flowery hats.
The 150 Manitoba Women Trailblazer Awards are given to individuals and groups that have been leaders in their field and have significantly impacted life in Manitoba. The recipients will be recognized in a book that will be featured at the Manitoba Museum, once it is open to the public.
—By Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe
The founders of MCC's network of thrift shops, pictured from left to right in 2007: Linie Friesen, Selma Loewen, Susan Giesbrecht and Sara Stoesz. (MCC photo by Gladys Terichow)