Friday, 1 March 2013

“She Cared Enough to Come:” Archives Exposed Exhibit Honours Senator Joyce Fairbairn

The new Archives Exposed exhibit, From Galt Baby to Senator, opens today! This exhibit will be honouring Senator Joyce Fairbairn through a series of photos and artifacts. Senator Fairbairn was born and raised in Lethbridge and has worked on Parliament Hill in various jobs for the last five decades.

Joyce Fairbarin worked for Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau
as a Legislative Assistant and, later,
Senior Communication Coordinator
until 1984 when she became the first
Senator from Lethbridge, AB.
She was born at the Galt Hospital in 1939 and attended Lethbridge Colligate Institute (LCI). During her time at LCI she also worked as a teen journalist at the Lethbridge Herald writing a column titled, “Teen Chatter”.  Even as a young woman Fairbairn was active in her community as she contributed to the Herald and participated in local speech contests and festivals.

Fairbairn left Lethbridge to attend the University of Alberta, from which she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English in 1960. A year later, she graduated from Carleton University with a Bachelor of Journalism. Fairbairn stayed in Ottawa and began writing for many newspapers and became the first woman to work in the Parliamentary Press Gallery.
Her career on Parliament Hill continued when Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau hired Fairbairn as his Legislative Assistant in 1970. Later Fairbairn also became Prime Minister Trudeau’s Communications Coordinator.  In 1984 Fairbairn was appointed to the Senate where she worked until January 18, 2013.

Senator Fairbairn was named Chief Morning Bird Woman
when she was inaugurated into the Kainai Chieftainship
in 1990. As a member of the Kainai Chieftainship she attends
meetings and pow-wows.  Photo courtesy of Glenn Miller.
After Fairbairn was appointed to the Senate in 1984 it quickly became clear that she would not be limited to the Red Chamber. Senator Fairbairn quickly became known for attending Southern Albertan milestones, openings, celebrations, and even the occasional cake decorating contest. Senator Fairbairn became well known throughout Southern Alberta because, as one constituent commented, “she cared enough to come”. 
Through her many accomplishments Senator Fairbairn has become a great role model for young women and young Canadians. Her devotion to her communities is amazing, communities such as the Paralympics Association, the Kainai Nation, the University of Lethbridge, the city of Lethbridge, and many more.
It was my privilege to curate this exhibit to honour Senator Fairbairn and her great accomplishments. Please come and be impressed by Senator Fairbairn’s career endeavors and her passions and honours at the Archives Exposed… Galt Baby to Senator exhibit!

By Karissa Patton

Karissa Patton is a fourth-year History major at the University of Lethbridge who is interested in Southern Alberta Women’s History. This spring she is the archives assistant social media contributor for the Galt Museum & Archives, earning Applied Studies credit while sharing stories uncovered in the archives

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