Senator Joyce Fairbairn Middle School selected as name for new school

Lethbridge School District No. 51’s new westside middle school has a name. 

The District’s newest school will be named after a trailblazer from southern Alberta, who eventually became the first woman to serve as leader of the government in the Senate.

Senator Joyce Fairbairn Middle School will open its doors to students in the fall of 2018, to serve students in Grade 6 to Grade 8 on the westside.

“On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I am pleased to celebrate and honour the lifelong contributions of a great Canadian with the naming of Senator Joyce Fairbairn Middle School,” said Clark Bosch, chair of the District’s Board of Trustees. “Senator Fairbairn’s dedication to making our country a better place for all Canadians, through her tireless work on myriad causes is truly remarkable.”

Joyce Fairbairn, P.C., C.M., C.D. served as a Canadian senator who also worked as a journalist in the Parliamentary Press Gallery in Ottawa, before being hired as a legislative assistant to Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau in 1970.

In 1981, she became communications co-ordinator in the Prime Minister's Office. On June 29, 1984, just prior to leaving office, Trudeau recommended her for appointment as a Liberal senator for Alberta, her home province.

Born and raised in Lethbridge, Fairbairn served on several committees, including the Special Senate Committee on Youth, and the Senate Standing committees on Transportation and Communications, Legal and Constitutional Affairs and Agricultural and Forestry. She is a founding member of the Senate Standing Committee on Aboriginal Peoples.

Fairbairn was also Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry, and the Special Senate Committee on the Anti-terrorism Act. She sat on the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry until June of 2012.

Fairbairn graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Alberta in Edmonton in 1960, and received a Bachelor of Journalism degree from Carleton University in Ottawa in 1961.

She began a career in journalism as a student while working summers at The Lethbridge Herald, and following university joined the news staff of The Ottawa Journal in 1961.

The following year, she joined the bureau of United Press International in the parliamentary Press Gallery in Ottawa, and in 1964, went to the Parliamentary Bureau of F.P. Publications. There, she reported for six years for The Winnipeg Free Press, Calgary Albertan, Lethbridge Herald, Vancouver Sun, Victoria Times and Ottawa Journal.

In 1990, she was inducted into the Kanai Chieftainship of the Blood Reservation, and given the name Morning Bird Woman. She also served on the senate of the University of Lethbridge, and was an honorary lieutenant-colonel of the 18th Air Defence Regiment, RCA.

From 1984–1991, Fairbairn was vice-chair of the National Liberal Caucus and vice-chair of the Western and Northern Liberal Caucus. In June 1991, Fairbairn was appointed co-chair of the National Campaign committee of the Liberal Party of Canada.

In 1993, Fairbairn was appointed to the Privy Council, and was the first woman to be named leader of the Government in the Senate and Minister with Special Responsibility for Literacy. Fairbairn was an active advocate for the cause of literacy, initiating national debate in the Senate on literacy in Canada in March 1987. Fairbairn’s passion for literacy extended to Lethbridge, as the senator was in attendance for the first One School One Book project in Canada, held over a decade ago at Dr. Probe Elementary School.

“Her reputation as a person who placed the needs others first is a quality we could use more of in our world today, and we know our new school will instill Senator Fairbairn’s values in our students for years to come,” said Bosch.

Senator Joyce Fairbairn Middle School is located at 301 Rocky Mountain Blvd West, just southwest of Dr. Probe Elementary School.

Date posted: March 12, 2018