Bernadette Smith, O.M., MLA
NDP MLA Bernadette Smith (Point Douglas) accomplished a rarity in politics – the passage of a private member’s bill into law. The caucus chair for the official Opposition and critic for mental health and addictions, Smith is credited for the fact the Child and Family Services Act now states that poverty cannot be used as grounds for the apprehension of children.
As well, Smith has opposed cuts to the Rent Assist program, Employment and Income Assistance and Manitoba Housing. She has presented on a variety of women’s and indigenous issues on Parliament Hill.
Smith holds Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Education degrees from the University of Winnipeg and is on leave from the University of Saskatchewan, where she is pursuing a Master’s degree in land-based research on Indigenous knowledge.
Born and raised in Winnipeg’s North End, she is a fierce advocate for the area’s families, having lived their challenges, and is a dedicated community-builder. She is a proud Indigenous mother and grandmother.
In 2008, Smith’s sister, Claudette Osborne-Tyo, went missing. She has tirelessly sought answers to Osborne-Tyo’s disappearance, and has supported others who have suffered similar losses. Smith developed the Missing Persons and Persons-at-Risk Toolkit which is housed within Ki Ni Kanichihk. Smith is a workbook contributor for the Orange Daisy Project, which supports the mental health of young women and was head researcher for Taken, a television series that seeks to find answers in the cases of Canada’s missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.
Smith is the co-founder of both the Coalition of Families of Missing & Murdered Women in Manitoba, and the Drag the Red Initiative. As a MMIWG family member, she knows the importance of strong political activism and has been a powerful voice for Indigenous people.
Smith delivers keynote addresses, organizes events, holds presentations to foster discussion and action, raises awareness of Indigenous contributions to the history and development of Canada, as well as the issues surrounding MMIWG.
She spearheads the annual No Stone Unturned Awareness Concert for Missing & Murdered Persons and Drag the Red. Her community organizing brings together thousands of people and has drawn international attention to the issues surrounding MMIWG, resulting in her being invited to deliver presentations on MMIWG at international women’s conferences.
Smith is the recipient of several scholarships, bursaries and awards for her activism including the Order of Manitoba, Ka Ni Kanichihk’s Oscar Lathlin Memorial Award, and the Aboriginal Circle of Education Young Leaders Award.
Smith is proud to have served on numerous boards including the executive board of directors of the Native Women’s Association of Canada, and Manitoba Moon Voices.
Smith, Anishinaabe from Duck Bay and Pine Creek, is a strong, proud indigenous woman helping to inspire and uplift others, and is amongst the strongest voices demanding action for the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.