Senator Joyce Fairbairn retired on January 18, 2013.
Appointed to the Senate by the late former Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Senator Joyce Fairbairn represents the province of Alberta and the Senatorial Division of Lethbridge. She has served in the Senate of Canada since June 29, 1984.
She is currently a Member of the following Senate Committees: Agriculture and Forestry; Selection; and Social Affairs, Science and Technology. Over the years she has been involved with Parliamentary groups including the Canada-U.S. Interparliamentary Group and the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. Her areas of interest and specialization include journalism, communications, and literacy.
Senator Fairbairn has a long history of public service, and a special interest in literacy issues, which her role in the Senate has allowed her to pursue first-hand. Her public career began long before her appointment to the Senate, when she served as Legislative Assistant to the late Pierre Elliott Trudeau from 1970 to 1984. Senator Fairbairn also served as Communications Coordinator in the Prime Minister’s Office from 1981 to 1983. From 1984 to 1991, she was Vice-Chair of the National Liberal Caucus and Vice-Chair of the Western and Northern Liberal Caucus. In 1991, Senator Fairbairn was appointed Co-Chair of the National Campaign Committee of the National Campaign. On November 4, 1993, she was appointed to the Privy Council, the first woman to be named Leader of the Government in the Senate and Minister with Special Responsibility for Literacy. Most recently, on September 8, 1997, she was appointed Special Advisor on Literacy to the Minister of Human Resources Development Canada.
Senator Fairbairn began her career as a journalist, working and reporting for a variety of news organizations including the Ottawa Journal (1961) and the bureau of United Press International in the Parliamentary Press Gallery (1962).
She holds distinctions including her induction into the Kainai Chieftainship of the Blood Nation and being given the name Morning Bird Woman in 1990. She is also an Honourary Colonel of the 18th Air Defense Regiment, RCA.
Educated at the University of Alberta where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English (1960), Senator Fairbairn also holds a Bachelor of Journalism degree from Carleton University (1961).
Senator Fairbairn was born in Lethbridge on November 6, 1939, where she was also raised.