Debates of the Senate  
1st Session, 41st Parliament, Volume 148, Issue 136
  Tuesday, February 12, 2013
 
Tribute to Senator Joyce Fairbairn
Hon. Lillian Eva Dyck: Honourable senators, I would like to say a few words about our colleague, Senator Joyce Fairbairn. In fact, I am wearing my red jacket today in honour of Joyce because everyone knew that Joyce loved to wear red, and so do I. I feel that in displaying this jacket I am stepping into some big shoes.

I was appointed to the Senate in the spring of 2005, and one of the first people who approached me to do a speech was Joyce Fairbairn. She said, "I have been a lifelong champion of literacy, and I have this inquiry on the paper. Would you be willing to make a speech?" I thought, yes, of course, because in my lifetime, too, literacy and education were two of the important things that got me to where I got to in the work world. I agreed.

I have to admit that that was one of the best things that could have happened to me because it forced me do a whole lot of research on literacy and education with respect to the Aboriginal population, and now everyone in the world is talking about it. Through that intervention, Joyce put me on the right road, and I will continue to be there.

It was mentioned that she was made an honorary chief of the Blood tribe in Alberta. That, in itself, is an achievement because that is giving her the highest honour in that community, so we know in what high regard she was held.

The last thing I want to say is that Joyce has Alzheimer's disease, but she was in a good place because she had a lot of friends that were like her family here in the Senate. I saw so many people Senate staff, her staff, other senators who cared deeply about her and were helping her along in those moments where she might have had some difficulty. The security staff were very concerned, and we do not often give credit to them. A number of times they said to me that they hoped she was okay. All sorts of people were looking after her. That indicates what a great person she was, what great drive she had and how she was working hard to make Canada better for us all.