Ethel Blondin-Andrew

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Ethel Blondin-Andrew
Minister of State (Northern Development)
In office
20 July 2004 – 5 February 2006
Prime MinisterPaul Martin
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byPosition abolished
Minister of State (Children and Youth)
In office
12 December 2003 – 20 July 2004
Prime MinisterPaul Martin
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byPosition abolished
Member of the Canada Parliament
for Western Arctic
In office
21 November 1988 – 23 January 2006
Preceded byDave Nickerson
Succeeded byDennis Bevington
Personal details
Ethel Dorothy Blondin

(1951-03-25) 25 March 1951 (age 73)
Tulita, Northwest Territories, Canada
Political partyLiberal
Alma materUniversity of Alberta

Ethel Dorothy Blondin-Andrew PC OC (born 25 March 1951) is a Canadian politician, educator, and public servant. She became the first Indigenous woman to be elected to the Parliament of Canada in 1988 when she became a member of Parliament for the district of Western Arctic in the Northwest Territories.[1] She is also the first Indigenous woman to be a Canadian Cabinet Minister.[2]

Early life[edit]

Blondin-Andrew was born 25 March 1951 in Tulita, Northwest Territories.[3] She is a Dene woman.[4] In 1959, she was sent to Grollier Hall in Inuvik, a residential school. She left the school to live in a tent town with other runaway students. When she was twelve, she went to the hospital for back surgery and discovered that she was ill with tuberculosis.[5] After she recovered, she moved to Délı̨nę with her parents, where a local priest wrote her a recommendation letter for Grandin College, a leadership school in Fort Smith, which accepted her application.[6][7]

She received a B.Ed from the University of Alberta in 1974,[8] specialising in linguistics and literacy. In 1984, she became National Manager of the Indigenous Development Participation Programme which was run by the Canadian Public Service. She was appointed executive director two years later.[2]

Political career[edit]

In 1986, she became Assistant Deputy Minister of Culture for the Northwest Territories. In this role, she became involved in the Assembly of First Nations Aboriginal Language Foundation and the North American Language Institute. She was approached to run for the Territorial Council of the Northwest Territories but instead she ran to be Member of Parliament for the Western Arctic in the 1988 federal election.[2] She won and while an MP, she became the Liberal Party's Assistant Critic for employment equity and Aboriginal affairs.[4] She also served as chair of the Northern and Western Caucus and the Caucus Committee on Aboriginal Affairs, and as a member of the Special Joint Committee on a Renewed Canada, the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs, the Standing Committee on Northern Development, and the Standing Committee on Electoral Reform.[3] She gave her first speech in the House of Commons in the Dene language.[9]

Following the 1993 federal election, the Liberal Party became the majority party and when Jean Chrétien became Prime Minister, Blondin-Andrew was appointed Secretary of State for Training and Youth on 4 November 1993.[2][4] She helped create both Youth Service Canada and the Youth Employment Strategy. On 10 August 1998, she was elected chair for the Main Committee of the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth in Lisbon.[3] On 11 June 1997, she became Secretary of State (Children and Youth).[4]

When Paul Martin succeed Jean Chrétien as Prime Minister, he appointed Blondin-Andrew as Minister of State (Children and Youth) on 12 December 2003. She served in this role until 20 July 2004, when she became Minister of State (Northern Development).[4] She was re-elected in the 2004 federal election by a razor-thin margin of 53 votes, and was voted out of office in the 2006 federal election, after 17 years of service.[4][10]

In 2001, her work for Aboriginal communities was formally recognized by Brock University, who awarded her an honorary doctorate.[11] She was also awarded a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal by the Governor General of Canada in 2012.[12] She also received the 2019 Maclean's Lifetime Achievement Award given to former MPs.[5]

Later career[edit]

Blondin-Andrew was the Chair of Sahtu Secretarial Incorporated from 2009 until September 2018.[13] She currently works with the Indigenous Leadership Initiative.[14]

Personal life[edit]

Blondin-Andrew currently lives in Norman Wells.[5] She is married to Leon Andrew and has four children and four grandchildren.[9]

See also[edit]

Select publications[edit]

  • "Live your dreams: by following our vision, aboriginals are changing perceptions and inspiring others". Aboriginal Voices. Vol. 6, no. 15. July–August 1999.

Electoral history[edit]

2006 Canadian federal election: Northwest Territories
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
New Democratic Dennis Bevington 6,801 42.67 +3.62 $40,703
Liberal Ethel Blondin-Andrew 5,643 35.40 −4.04
Conservative Richard Edjericon 3,200 20.08 +2.92
Green Alexandre Beaudin 296 1.85 −2.47
Total valid votes 15,940 100.0  
New Democratic gain from Liberal Swing +3.83
2004 Canadian federal election: Northwest Territories
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
Liberal Ethel Blondin-Andrew 5,317 39.44 −6.15 $58,782
New Democratic Dennis Bevington 5,264 39.05 +12.34 $39,504
Conservative Sean Mandeville 2,314 17.16 −10.52 $16,863
Green Chris O'Brien 583 4.32 $2,754
Total valid votes 13,478 100.0  
Total rejected ballots 69 0.51
Turnout 13,547 47.33
Liberal hold Swing −9.24
Change for the Conservatives is based on the combined totals of the Canadian Alliance and the Progressive Conservatives.
2000 Canadian federal election: Northwest Territories
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
Liberal Ethel Blondin-Andrew 5,855 45.59 +3.96 $56,498
New Democratic Dennis Bevington 3,430 26.71 +7.42 $27,323
Alliance Fred Turner 2,273 17.70 +2.99 $15,406
Progressive Conservative Bruce McLaughlin 1,687 9.98 −2.64 $8,374
Total valid votes 12,840 100.0  
Total rejected ballots 72 0.56
Turnout 12,912 52.24
Liberal hold Swing −1.73
Change for the Canadian Alliance is based on the Reform Party.
1997 Canadian federal election: Northwest Territories
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
Liberal Ethel Blondin-Andrew 5,564 41.63 −20.84 $56,834
New Democratic Mary Beth Levan 2,579 19.29 +12.98 $22,393
Reform Mike Watt 1,966 14.71 +0.62 $4,546
Progressive Conservative Bob Dowdall 1,687 12.62 –0.71 $16,020
Independent Wally Firth 1,567 11.72 $8,857
Total valid votes 13,363 100.0  
Total rejected ballots 94 0.70
Turnout 13,457 58.37
Liberal hold Swing −16.91
1993 Canadian federal election: Northwest Territories
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Ethel Blondin-Andrew 8,867 62.47 +20.10
Reform Mansell Grey 2,000 14.09
Progressive Conservative Martin Hanly 1,893 13.34 −15.28
New Democratic Bill Schram 896 6.31 −18.78
Green Chris O'Brien 325 2.29
Natural Law Lynn Taylor 213 1.50
Total valid votes 14,194 100.0  
Liberal hold Swing +3.00
1988 Canadian federal election: Northwest Territories
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Ethel Blondin 5,415 42.37 +16.52
Progressive Conservative Dave Nickerson 3,657 28.62 −17.50
New Democratic Wayne Cahill 3,207 25.10 −2.93
Independent Cece McCauley 331 2.59
Independent Ernie Lennie 169 1.32
Total valid votes 12,779 100.0  
Liberal gain from Progressive Conservative Swing +17.01


  1. ^ "Member of Parliament Profile (Historical)". Parliament of Canada. Government of Canada. 10 February 2009. Archived from the original on 1 January 2013. Retrieved 10 March 2009.
  2. ^ a b c d Secretariat, Commonwealth (1999). Women in Politics: Voices from the Commonwealth. Commonwealth Secretariat. pp. 43–46. ISBN 978-0-85092-569-2.
  3. ^ a b c "Ethel Blondin-Andrew of Canada Elected Chairperson of Main Committee of World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth". 10 August 1998. Retrieved 12 August 2021.
  4. ^ a b c d e f "Profile – Blondin-Andrew, Ethel Dorothy". Retrieved 8 March 2018.
  5. ^ a b c Geddes, John (4 December 2019). "From residential school runaway to trailblazing MP". Maclean's.
  6. ^ McLeod, Shaun (26 March 2021). "Fort Smith's leadership factory: How Grandin College helped shape the North". Durham College Chronicle.
  7. ^ Boyer, J. Patrick (1 April 2003). Leading in an Upside-Down World: New Canadian Perspectives on Leadership. Dundurn. pp. 59–70. ISBN 978-1-55002-983-3.
  8. ^ "Entry from Canadian Who's Who". 1997. Retrieved 6 October 2009.
  9. ^ a b "The Honourable Ethel Blondin-Andrew, P.C." Indigenous Leadership Initiative. Retrieved 12 August 2021.
  10. ^ "Blondin-Andrew defeated in N.W.T." CBC News. 24 January 2006. Retrieved 12 April 2016.
  11. ^ "Liberal Party of Canada – Official Web Site". Retrieved 8 March 2018.
  12. ^ "The Honourable Ethel Blondin-Andrew". The Governor General of Canada. Retrieved 12 August 2021.
  13. ^ "Charles McNeely elected new Sahtu secretariat chair by acclamation". Retrieved 18 February 2021.
  14. ^ Ottenhof, Luke (25 January 2021). "Indigenous conservation can get Canada to climate goals: former MP Ethel Blondin-Andrew to Trudeau". National Observer.

External links[edit]

27th Ministry – Cabinet of Paul Martin
Cabinet posts (2)
Predecessor Office Successor
  Minister of State (Northern Development)
  Minister of State (Children and Youth)
26th Ministry – Cabinet of Jean Chrétien
Sub-Cabinet Posts (2)
Predecessor Title Successor
Secretary of State (Children and Youth)
Secretary of State (Training and Youth)
Parliament of Canada
Preceded by Member of Parliament Western Arctic
Succeeded by