Canada’s first Indigenous female MP, former Western Arctic representative Ethel Blondin-Andrew, is the recipient of this year’s lifetime achievement award from the news magazine Maclean’s.
Blondin-Andrew, 68, was born in Tulita. She served as the Northwest Territories’ MP from 1988 to 2006, making her the longest-serving parliamentarian in the territory’s history by a distance.
She told Maclean’s she had fled Inuvik’s Grollier Hall residential school as a child, surviving tuberculosis at the age of 12, before graduating from the University of Alberta and returning to the North to teach and promote Indigenous languages.
After entering politics, Blondin-Andrew spent time as the Liberal minister responsible for children and youth, and as a minister of state for northern development.
“I didn’t want people to come to Ottawa and not be able to see a minister or someone from our party,” Blondin-Andrew told Maclean’s, describing her effort to make time for visitors while she was an MP.
“The way you treat people is the way that you will be remembered,” she said.
Blondin-Andrew received her lifetime achievement award from the magazine at its annual gala honouring parliamentarians, held in Ottawa on Wednesday evening.
Attendees included the NWT’s current Liberal MP, Michael McLeod, and Premier Caroline Cochrane.