Joyce Fairbairn passed away peacefully on March 29, 2022 in Lethbridge, Alberta with her niece Patricia McCullagh at her side. Joyce will be deeply missed by her family and many friends and remembered for her passion, service and the human impact she had on so many Canadians.
Joyce had a long and distinguished career serving her country with dedication and grace. She worked on Parliament Hill for 50 years starting as a journalist in the Parliamentary Press Gallery; then as Legislative Assistant to Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau; before being appointed to the Senate of Canada for Alberta and to the Canadian Cabinet in 1993 as first female Government Leader in the Senate and Minister with special responsibility for Literacy.
Joyce embraced life and work with extraordinary energy and passion. Her commitment to bettering the lives of the most disadvantaged people was unwavering. She considered being inaugurated into the Kainai Chieftainship for enhancing the quality of life for the Blood Tribe of Southern Alberta to be one of the biggest honours of her life. Joyce was named Ksiskaníípi'ksaakii, Chief Morning Bird Woman in 1990. Amongst other devotions, she championed literacy in Canada and was Chair of the Paralympic Foundation. Joyce’s personal passions were many: her family and pets, cooking, music, travelling with her beloved husband Mike to wherever Frank Sinatra was live in concert, or the Montreal Expos were playing, and riding horses on the prairie. Despite great achievements, Joyce remained humble: the “girl from Lethbridge” as she called herself. Her heart remained there: with the land and the people, the home she returned to for her last ten years. The family thanks the staff at St. Therese Villa, Alberta Health and Lethbridge companions for the care and kindness shown to Joyce over the last 8 years.
Joyce Fairbairn leaves behind her sister, Lyn Garlock (née Fairbairn); her niece Patricia McCullagh and Patricia’s family; husband Martin Broomfield; and great nieces Jessica and Natalie; her nephew David McCullagh; and her sister-in-law, Betsey McNear, husband Terry McNear and their family.
She was predeceased by her husband, Michael Gillan in 2002.
It was Joyce’s request that the celebration of her life be held in the warmth of summer, therefore, a celebration of Joyce Fairbairn’s life will be held this summer of 2022 in Lethbridge, Alberta.
Details will be announced when service plans have been finalized.
The family requests expressions of generosity be made to the Alzheimer’s Society of Canada, 20 Eglinton Avenue West, 16th Floor, Toronto, ON M4R 1K8