Winnipeg unveils portraits to honour women elected to council

WINNIPEG — The City of Winnipeg unveiled a photo display at city hall on Monday to mark 100 years since the first woman was elected to city council.

Jessie Kirk was inaugurated in January 1921. She was the first woman to ever be elected as a city councillor in Winnipeg.

Now, on International Women’s Day, the city has released a photo display of all the women that have served on city council in the last 100 years.

Jessie kirk

(CTV News Photo Scott Andersson)

“It’s our duty as elected representatives to tell the stories, to share the history and to inspire the next generation,” said Coun. Devi Sharma. 

“So this is what it’s all about. To have the public get to know these women, these faces, these names, their legacy, so that we can have more women stepping forward.”

Sharma noted the country still has a long ways to go in terms of female representation in all levels of government. 

“We have made some gains, but we have a long way to go,” she said. 

“So a photo display like this, I believe, will provide inspiration to our young generation by marking these important dates.”

Sharma added that it is important to have diverse voices represented in public office, which includes gender diversity, ethnic diversity and people of all abilities and backgrounds.

“It’s so important to have diversity because you have that lived experience based on who you are,” she said. 

“You bring your decision-making, your thoughts, your ideas through that lens.”

She said in all levels of government, diversity enriches the conversation and elevates the decision-making. 

The display will be hung in the Susan A. Thompson Building, a building renamed in 2017 to honour Winnipeg’s first female mayor.

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