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BC’s first woman lieutenant-governor dies at age 91

Iona Campagnolo was a Prince Rupert broadcaster, city alderwoman and Skeena MP before becoming L-G
Iona Campagnolo, inspects uniforms when she was B.C. lieutenant-governor, before giving the speech from the throne at the B.C. legislature in Victoria on Feb. 14, 2006. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed Campagnolo has died at the age of 91. (Deddeda Stemler/The Canadian Press)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed April 5 that former B.C. lieutenant-governor Iona Campagnolo died at the age of 91.

Campagnolo was appointed B.C.’s 27th lieutenant-governor in 2001, the first woman to hold the role. She remained in the post until Sept. 30, 2007.

Campagnolo was born Iona Victoria Hardy on Galiano Island Oct. 18, 1932.

Before becoming lieutenant-governor, Campagnolo had a broadcasting career in Prince Rupert and was an elected trustee on the local school board. In 1966, she was elected as an alderwoman (councillor) to Prince Rupert City Council.

In 1973, she was inducted into the Order of Canada as a Member for “her wide-ranging services in organizing, promoting and conducting community projects in Prince Rupert, British Columbia.”

After that, she turned to federal politics and was elected to the House of Commons in 1974 as the Liberal MP for the then-riding of Skeena.

Following her stint as lieutenant-governor, she was elevated to Officer of the Order of Canada in 2008.

At the Prince Rupert District Chamber of Commerce Business Awards April 6, Elder Clarence Nelson Sr., gave a personal tribute to Campagnolo during the traditional welcome to Ts’msyen territory.

In a statement, Trudeau said Campagnolo championed many causes as B.C.’s lieutenant-governor, including climate action, gender equality and First Nations reconciliation.

Trudeau offered condolences to her family and B.C. residents in the statement.

“Mrs. Campagnolo was a proud British Columbian and a role model for women in politics,” he said. “Her relentless dedication, optimism, and commitment to equality will leave a lasting mark on Canada.”

“On behalf of Canadians, I offer my deepest condolences to Mrs. Campagnolo’s loved ones and all British Columbians. Canada has lost a trailblazer. Her passion to create a better Canada — and world — will continue to inspire us for generations.”

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