Cuthand: Lillian Dyck leaves mark on Senate

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She graduated from high school in Swift Current and went to university in Saskatoon. She spent her academic career at the U of S, earning her Bachelor of Arts (Honours), Master of Science in Biochemistry and Ph.D. in Biological Psychiatry, all from the U of S.

Dyck pursued a successful career as a scientist, and in 2005 Prime Minister Paul Martin appointed her to the Senate. It was quite a jump from the isolation of a Chinese café to the sheltered world of academia to the glare of national politics.

At first she wanted to sit as an NDP Senator, but the party brass told her that they wanted to abolish the Senate. She then sat as an independent member, and in 2009 joined the Liberal caucus. When dropped the Liberal senators from the Liberal caucus in 2014, she went back to being an independent. Later she would join the progressive Senate group where she stayed until the end of her career.

Throughout her time in the Senate, she fought for the rights of Aboriginal women. She advocated for the national Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women long before it was established.

She was also a strong advocate of Bill C-75, the criminal justice bill that required judges to consider harsher sentences in cases of violence against Indigenous women.

Dyck has also expressed her doubts that the Liberal government is committed to act on the final report of the MMIW inquiry. Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett had promised to present an action plan within a year of the final report being released, but in May she said the COVID-19 pandemic had delayed its completion. The report was tabled in June 2019, about nine months before the pandemic hit. Rather than dragging it out, the government should have made a more immediate response to reflect the gravity of the situation.

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