On this day in 1988, history was made in the House of Commons, where Ethel Blondin-Andrew, the first, First Nations woman was elected.
Winning the Western Arctic seat for the Liberal party during the 1988 federal election, she served as the Opposition critic for Aboriginal affairs, was re-elected in 1993 — plus, four times after that — and worked towards protecting Indigenous languages, cultures and communities throughout her 18-year parliamentary career.
From Residential School to Parliament Seat
Blondin-Andrew was born in Tulita, N.W.T. on March 25, 1951. As a young girl in 1959, she was sent to Grollier Hall residential school in Inuvik. She soon fled the school and lived in a “tent town” with other runaways.
After returning home, Blondin-Andrew eventually earned an education degree from the University of Alberta and started teaching at different Northwest Territories schools from 1974 to 1981. And, by 1984, she was manager and then acting director of the Public Service Commission of Canada before entering the federal election in 1988.
Throughout her time in the House of Commons, Blondin-Andrew has become the Secretary of State, Training and Youth, served as the Minister of State for Northern development and accomplished being the longest parliamentarian in Northwest Territories history.
Although she was defeated in the 2006 election, Blondin-Andrew has worked throughout her career to help raise awareness and advocate for Indigenous Peoples, children and peoples with disabilities. She’s best known as a leader who worked tirelessly for the inclusion of Indigenous communities in development, national, regional and local labour market programs.
On June 29, 2022, Blondin-Andrew was appointed Officer of the Order of Canada.