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HomeNewsFounding UNBC Chancellor and former lieutenant-governor, Iona Campagnolo, dead at 91

Founding UNBC Chancellor and former lieutenant-governor, Iona Campagnolo, dead at 91

Iona Campagnolo has passed away at the age of 91.

Born in Vancouver on October 18, 1932, she was UNBC’s founding Chancellor, serving between 1992-98.

After a long political career, she also became BC’s first female lieutenant governor in 2001.

Campagnolo started her political work in 1966 when she was elected to the Prince Rupert School Board.

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After serving on the School Board for 6 years, she was elected as a Prince Rupert City Councillor.

During this time she worked for CHTK Radio and won the BC Broadcaster of the Year award in 1973.

Then Campagnolo went national, elected as the Skeena Liberal Party MLA in 1974.

She was the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development (1974-1976) and Minister of State for Fitness and Amateur Sport (Sept. 14, 1976 – May 22, 1979).

You can learn more about Campagnolo’s life here.

Janet Austin, BC’s current lieutenant governor, has issued the following statement:

“It is with deep sadness that I learned of the passing of the Honourable Iona Campagnolo.

In 2001, Iona Campagnolo became the first woman Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia. Radiant and tireless she spent years advocating for British Columbians even before her appointment as Lieutenant Governor. At a time when Reconciliation was not at the forefront of people’s minds, Iona Campagnolo was an early supporter, recognizing the importance of building relationships with Indigenous peoples and Northern communities. She was honoured with two Indigenous names, Notz-whe-Neah or “Mother of the Big Fin” given by Chief Haq be quot’o, Kenneth Harris of the T’Simpsean Nation and symbolized by an Orca, as well as Saan-naag-Kaawaass or “Person who Sits High”, symbolized by a Haida Eagle, and given by Chief Skidegate, Clarence Collinson of the Haida Nation. Both the Orca and the Haida Eagle were incorporated into her Vice-Regal uniform.

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During her time as Lieutenant Governor, she committed whole-heartedly to celebrating the accomplishments of British Columbians. She founded the BC Lieutenant Governor’s Wine Awards to support the province’s burgeoning industry and to recognize excellence in winemaking for all licensed British Columbia wineries. She also founded the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Literary Excellence to recognize British Columbia writers who have contributed to the development of literary excellence in the Province. An avid gardener and supporter for the preservation of the province’s history, Iona Campagnolo’s efforts resulted in Government House and its grounds being designated as a National Historic Site in 2003.

Being the first woman Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia was merely one of Iona Campagnolo’s many “firsts.” She was also the first woman president of the Liberal Party of Canada and the first chancellor of the University of Northern British Columbia.

I extend my sincerest condolences to Iona Campagnolo’s family and loved ones. Let us remember Iona Campagnolo’s great contributions to British Columbia, to Canada, and may we continue to build on her legacy.”

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