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Anita Neville named Manitoba's incoming Lieutenant Governor-First Jew to Hold the Post

by Rhonda Spivak, Sept 14, 2022



Former Member of  Parliament, Anita Neville has been named Manitoba’s next lieutenant-governor, and is the first member of the Jewish community to ever hold this post. Neville told the Winnipeg Jewish Review that she is “proud” to be the first Jew named to this position, and “it is quite overwhelming.”

Neville, 80, told the  CJN (Canadian Jewish News) that she expects to bring her Jewish values in the role. ‘It’s just who I am,” she told the CJN.


Neville, (born Ruth Schwartz ) told the Winnipeg Jewish Review that as the next lieutenant- governor, she is looking forward to “meeting Manitobans and bringing Manitobans together.” She added, “It’s the outreach to people, and hearing their stories that most interests me.”


Neville’s maternal grandparents immigrated to Canada from Russia in 1913. "My mother was born en route as they were leaving Russia. My grandmother gave birth to my mother in Germany.” Neville's grandmother was an important influence in her life.


Neville’s mother “was a homemaker” and her father was “a manufacturer’s agent” who was involved in other business activities.


Growing up, Neville says “I lived in a very Jewish world…I went to public school, and then went to Hebrew school at Shaarey Zedek synagogue, as well as going to girl guides and confirmation classes at Shaarey Zedek synagogue. My life revolved around Shaarey Zedek synagogue... I belonged to BBYO and USY." Neville has served on the Board of Directors of Congregation Shaarey Zedek from 2012 to 2022.


Neville is cognizant of the fact that there was a time when Jews could not have become the lieutenant-governor. As she told the Canadian Jewish News, “There were places my grandparents and parents couldn’t live, jobs they couldn’t apply for, because they were Jews.” Neville told the Winnipeg Jewish Review that she experienced antisemitism but "it was subtle, not overt." There were people who made antisemitic comments, but  since she had married a non-Jew  they did not know she was Jewish at the time they made the remarks.


Neville, who holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in political science and history from the University of Manitoba, has three daughters, one living in Winnipeg, one living in Vancouver and one living in Toronto.


She says that the date for her swearing in ceremony as the next lieutenant governor  will be in "late October or early November."


Prominent community leader Marjorie Blankstein said that "I  was delighted that Anita has been chosen to be lieutenant-governor. I think she will do an excellent job." 



Gustavo Zentner, President of the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg noted that “Looking at Anita’s public career and the causes she championed as a volunteer, I believe her term as Manitoba’s Lieutenant Governor will be filled with genuine conversations with Manitobans from all walks of life that will bring us closer as a community. Her leadership will have a positive impact in the Jewish community as increased emphasis is placed on women’s roles and empowering youth and the next generation.”


“We look forward to representing issues of interest and the voices of the Winnipeg Jewish Community with Her Honour as soon as she is installed in her new role as Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba.”



Elaine Goldstine, CEO of the Jewish Federation stated “I believe that Anita is a great choice for Lieutenant Governor, as her experience and knowledge of the Jewish and general communities will enhance Manitoba and move us to another level.



In announcing Neville's appointment on  Aug. 15  Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that Neville has long been a champion for the people of her community, province and country. “As lieutenant-governor of Manitoba, I know she will continue to make a difference for Manitobans and Canadians. I wish her all the best in her new role,” he said. 



In 2000, Neville was elected as a Member of Parliament, representing her community of Winnipeg South Centre. She was re-elected in 2004, 2006, and 2008. During her time in the House of Commons, she supported the legalization of same-sex marriage, and advanced initiatives benefiting Indigenous Peoples, most notably on the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. In 2003, she played an important role in the establishment of Holocaust Memorial Day by Parliament.


In 2005, Neville served as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Minister responsible for Status of Women. She also served on numerous committees, parliamentary associations, and parliamentary groups, including the Standing Committee on National Defence and the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration. She was Chair of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women from 2004 to 2005 and Vice-Chair of the Canada-Israel Interparliamentary Group from 2009 to 2010.


She been an active supporter of Equal Voice, an organization that promotes the election of more women to all orders of Canadian government, as well as the Institute for International Women’s Rights – Manitoba and the Arab Jewish Dialogue. She currently sits on the Steering Committee of Operation Ezra and the Boards of Directors of the Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada and the Manitoba Interfaith Immigration Council.



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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.