1st Session, 42nd Parliament, Volume 150, Issue 96

  Tuesday, February 14, 2017
Statement: Sally Simpson and 150 Indigenous Female Firsts

Hon. Lillian Eva Dyck: Honourable senators, I would like to congratulate Sally Simpson for the creation of the 150 Indigenous Female Firsts. While attending an indigenous studies class at Wilfrid Laurier University, Sally noticed that there was no list of the achievements of indigenous women, so she decided to compile one.

As 2017 is Canada's one hundred fiftieth birthday, she decided to create the 150 Indigenous Female Firsts list. The list includes Elizabeth Steinhauer, a Cree woman who became the first indigenous female doctor in Canada in 1980.

The first indigenous female dentist was Mary Jane McCallum, also a Cree woman, in 1990.

The first indigenous female member of Parliament was Ethel Blondin, a Dene woman who took her seat in 1998.

Eloise Knott became the first indigenous female chief in 1954. She was the Chief of Curve Lake First Nation in Ontario.

Buffy Sainte-Marie was not only the first indigenous woman to win an Oscar in 1983; she was the first indigenous person to win an Oscar. She won the award for the song "Up Where We Belong."

Marion Ironquill Meadmore, an Ojibwe-Cree, became the first indigenous female lawyer in 1977.

The first indigenous female provincial court judge was Justice Terry Vyse in 1991.

The first indigenous female senator was Thelma Chalifoux, a Metis woman, in 1997.

The one hundred fiftieth indigenous female on the list is Akina Shirt, a 13-year-old girl who in 2007 sang the Canadian national anthem in Cree for the first time at an NHL game that aired on "Hockey Night in Canada."

Colleagues, Sally Simpson has a message for all Canadians, especially in Canada's one hundred fiftieth year. She says:

You too can make a difference, become an advocate, become part of positive change and join me in acknowledging these amazing women. Together we can raise awareness and celebrate our 150 Indigenous Female Firsts.

I, too, would like to encourage all senators and all Canadians to become part of this positive change and join me in acknowledging and celebrating these amazing indigenous women throughout this special year, Canada's one hundred fiftieth birthday.