Muriel Smith, O.C., O.M., LL.D.
Muriel Smith is indeed a trailblazer for many reasons. She accomplished many “firsts” as a woman and she has inspired a whole generation of women and girls. She is one that believes: “leave no one behind.” She was one of 100 Notable Women honoured by the Canadian Federation of University Women in August 2020.
She tackles the challenging subjects like economics with a sharp mind, is always ready to listen and articulates other points of views. She is a leader and trailblazer in our province. Smith graduated from the University of Manitoba with a B.A. Honours, followed by a diploma in Education from Oxford University. She returned to school at the University of Manitoba in 1973 to complete her B.Ed and M.Ed. (psychological counseling) and went on to teach and be a counselor at the high school level. In later years, Smith was an instructor at the Winnipeg Education Centre and the University of Manitoba. She received an Honorary LLD from the University of Manitoba in 2009.
Smith’s political career began in 1973 as a candidate for the New Democratic Party in River Heights. She was the first woman president of the New Democratic Party of Manitoba in 1975. In 1981, she was elected as member of the Legislative Assembly for Osborne. Her appointment as deputy premier signified the first woman in Canada to achieve this position. She also held the portfolios of Economic Development and Tourism, Community Services and Corrections, Minister Responsible for the Status of Women and Labour and Housing.
Smith’s interest and participation in women’s issues and areas of international cooperation span the range of chair of Empowering Women in Burma, United Nations Association of Canada and delegate to five world conferences, Provincial and National Councils of Women, the Canadian Federation of University Women, executive member of the Canadian Council for International Cooperation, chair of the Manitoba Council for International Cooperation and one of three Manitoba government representatives to the Red River Basin Commission, to name just a few.
Smith’s appointments to the Manitoba Human Rights Commission, Council on post-secondary education, and lay member of the Manitoba Law Society and the Association of Professional Engineers of Manitoba and her positions of vice-president of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra Board and president of the board of Reh-Fit Centre demonstrate the breadth of her participation in her local community.
Muriel Smith’s wide-ranging interest and participation in her immediate community and to the larger society, has provided an immense service to these sectors.