Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Current and Historical Indigenous Senators in Canadian Senate

There are currently 22 vacancies in the Senate, now is the opportunity to considering First Nation, Inuit and Metis people who would make great Senators.

Dec. 8, 2015

With all this talk about Senate reform, scandals and abolition, now is a good time to remind people that there are hard-working Senators that do good work. Including a handful of Indigenous senators.

From an Indigenous perspective, First Nation, Metis and Inuit representation in the Upper House has been lacking. There are currently five Indigenous senators, with three becoming of mandatory retirement age over the next 5 years. 

Senators Watt, Sibbeston, Dyck and Lovelace Nicholas are members of the Liberal Senate Forum which is separate from the House of Commons Liberal Party of Canada caucus. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau removed the Liberal Senators from the Liberal Party caucus in January 2014. Senator Patrick Brazeau is currently styled as a Independent Senator but is not a sitting member, full restoration or potential to be removed are pending legal cases

There has been suggestions of abolishing the Senate. Respected professor and political pundit Emmet Mcfarlane suggests that abolition or certain structural changes to the Senate makeup would require constitutional change, with unanimous approval of Parliament and all 10 provincial legislatures. With Ontario, Quebec and other provinces against Senate abolition, it very unlikely that a constitutional change to the Senate would pass. 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his government has chosen a different path (Read) to reform the Senate. Basically, the government would set up a expert panel who would review potential appointments based on merit and contributions to Canadian. The panel would intern suggest appointments to the Prime Minister for appointment to the Senate. 

The Prime Minister plans on appointing five new Senators early in the new year (2016) and fulfill all vacancies by the end of 2016. There are currently 22 vacancies and more to come, now is a good time to start thinking the many First Nation, Inuit and Metis people who could be appointed.


Charlie Watt
Inuit (Nunavik), QC
Appointed: Jan. 16, 1984
Appointed by: PM Pierre Trudeau
Term: 31 years serves | 4 years remaining 


Nick G. Sibbeston
Liidii Kue (Dehcho)
Appointed: Sept. 2, 1999
Appointed: PM Jean Chretien
Term: 16 years served | 3 years remaining

Lillian Eva Dyck
Cree (Gordon First Nation), SK
Appointed: Mar. 3, 2005
Appointed by: PM Paul Martin
Term: 10 years served | 5 year remaining


Sandra Lovelace Nicholas
Maliseet (Tobique First Nation), NB
Appointed: Sept. 9, 2005
Appointed by: PM Paul Martin
Term: 10 years served | 8 remaining


Patrick Brazeau
Algonquin (Kitigan Zibi), BC
Appointed: Jan. 8, 2009
Appointed by: PM Stephen Harper
Term: 6 years | 34 years remaining
*Brazeau is a Senator but not currently sitting as a member in the Senate

History of Indigenous Senators
  • 15 Indigenous Senators appointed in total
  • 5 Indigenous Senators today within the 15 noted
  • 9 First Nation, 4 Metis and 2 Inuit
  • 3 Women 

List of Indigenous Senators appointed to date (Dec. 2015)

Parliament of Canada: http://tinyurl.com/zyg8sux

Blog: J. Fraser (Dec. 2015)