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The Honorable Ethel Blondin-Andrew PC OC (she/her)

Co-chair of the Board of Directors , National Indigenous Fisheries Institute

The Honourable Ethel Blondin-Andrew was the first Indigenous woman to be elected to  the Parliament of Canada. She served as the Member of Parliament for the district of  Western Arctic in the Northwest Territories for five consecutive terms from 1988 to 2006.  Under Prime Minister Chrétien, Ethel was Secretary of State for Training and Youth and  then Minister of State for Children and Youth. She also served as Minister of State for  Northern Development under Prime Minister Paul Martin. Ethel is a Dene woman who  earned a Bachelor of Education from the University of Alberta in 1974. Before pursuing a  political career, she spent many years teaching school in several communities in the  Northwest Territories as one of the first accredited Indigenous teachers in the North. 
Later, Ethel joined the territorial government department of education as a language  specialist. Fluent in her Dene language of North Slavey and able to understand South  Slavey, she soon became a policy advisor for the preservation of Indigenous languages  and culture. From 1984-86, Ms. Blondin-Andrew was first a manager and then, acting  director, of the Public Service Commission of Canada. She then moved back to serve in  the territorial public service as National Manager of Indigenous Development Programs  and, then, as Assistant Deputy Minister of Culture and Communications until she was  elected in 1988. Following her professional and political careers, Ms. Blondin-Andrew has  held various leadership posts, including as Chair of the Sahtú Secretariat Incorporated.  The Secretariat is mandated to ensure the implementation of programs and services  under the Sahtú Dene and Métis land claims agreement for the benefit of the Sahtú  people. This includes wildlife harvesting rights and the right of first refusal for commercial  wildlife activities in the Sahtú Settlement Agreement area. 
Ethel is a strong Indigenous leader who has earned the reputation of being an individual  who is respected and trusted by all. She focuses her attention on northern issues,  especially those that affect the health and well-being of Indigenous children and women. 
In recognition of her hard work and dedication in promoting the well-being of Indigenous  communities, Ethel received an honorary doctorate from Brock University. Ms. Blondin Andrew is featured in Dancing Backwards, which combines five weeks of reflective study  and three weeks of creative storytelling to showcase the contributions of Canadian  women in political leadership and Indigenous women in governance. She has also been  a member of Indigenous delegations to the United Nations and other international fora  regarding the protection of the rights of Indigenous peoples. 
At home in Norman Wells, Ethel and her husband work tirelessly to make traditional foods,  such as fish and caribou, available to community members.



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