Sandra Lockhart, Indigenous rights campaigner, passes away

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Sandra Lockhart, who campaigned vocally and ceaselessly for the rights of Indigenous women in the North, has passed away, relatives and political figures said on Wednesday.

Originally from Mistawasis First Nation, north of Saskatoon in Saskatchewan, Sandra was most closely associated with Yellowknife and Łutselkʼe.

She became an important advocate for Indigenous women in the NWT – and, for many years, an Indigenous representative with the Public Service Alliance of Canada.

"You fought for equality for those with little or no voice," a friend wrote in her memory. Sandra had suffered from ill health for several years.

"Sandra touched the lives of many and will be greatly missed," said the Status of Women Council of the NWT in a statement.

Six years ago, Sandra received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for her contribution to the Northwest Territories.

In 2018, Sandra spoke with passion of her past during the Yellowknife session of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

In full: Read Sandra Lockhart's testimony to the MMIWG hearing

Detailing a life of at times considerable hardship and vulnerability, she described how she saw herself as a "political mother."

"When we raise our kids today, we raise them to be political," she said. "So our mother is political today. And if it isn't, it should be. It's the only way we're not going to have our kids walking in our footsteps, whether we're Indigenous or not.

"It's a damned shame that the state has to come along and say, 'OK, you've got human rights now.' I've always had them. What are you talking about? You just don't want to acknowledge it."

She urged Canada's leaders: "Get rid of those policies that promote the lie of white supremacy because it's hurting not just the Indigenous people, it's hurting the rest of the citizens in Canada – because they have to live with it and the laughable privileges they get from it."

After the 2018 hearing, Sandra told APTN she had found healing.

"It is just the beginning and I am not carrying what I call 'dirt' with me," she told the broadcaster.

"I am free of what was holding me down."