The Honourable Iona Campagnolo
27th Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia
Officer of the Order of Canada
Politics, Education, Rights
Inducted November, 30, 2012
The Honourable Iona Campagnolo PC, OC, OBC is
often called a “Woman of Firsts”. Campagnolo enjoyed a long career as a politician, broadcaster and activist, as well as being the first woman to be named Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia.
In a personal and emotional ceremony, Camagnolo was honoured for her achievements. “Everything my mom did was so very special. I’ve watched my mother my whole life, working so hard for all of those around her, “ said daughter Jan Logan. “Always my mom has made time for her family. I love my mother and I am about the proudest daughter ever. Thank you so much for all you have done for me and for all of us.”
Born on Galiano Island in 1932, Campagnolo spent much of her childhood in Prince Rupert, where her interest in politics first took root. “The first female mayor in all of Canada was Mayor Nora Arnold of Prince Rupert, 1948. She had a big impact on me,’ said Campagnolo. “I went down with my friends from high school to see her getting off the train from the far away place she had been named “Woman of the Year”. She got off the train from Winnipeg, she was in her black suit and her black hat and her silver fox and everybody was saying, ‘Your Worship this’ and ‘Your Worship that’, and my friends and I said to ourselves, ‘we can do that.’ And we did.”
Campagnolo began her political career as a Trustee with the local School Board before becoming a City Councillor and later a Liberal Member of Parliament for the Skeena Riding before joining Pierre Trudeau’s Cabinet and Privy Council.
In 1979 she lost her seat but in 1982 she became the President of the Liberal Party of Canada. In 2001 she was appointed the province’s first female Lieutenant Governor, a position she held for six years.
“ I didn’t go out into the world to have these honours and to see this evolution as I enter old age. I simply wanted to get on the School Board to change the way the schools were being run. And that was 1966.” Campagnolo said.
She had long campaigned for Women’s Rights and First Nation’s Rights and she has actively worked to defend the coast of British Columbia from environmental damage by tankers. Along the way she has earned numerous awards, including being named an ‘Officer of the Order of Canada’.
Campagnolo moved to the Comox Valley 20 years ago and thanked the community for welcoming her and treating her as one of its own. She pointed out that the Comox Valley is rich in community programs and those willing to give their time. “The community that is formed around you helps to form your entire basis for living from thereon, and so every day is important in terms of community, and this one is blessed with so many community-based organizations, people who give their time as volunteers,” she said.
Acknowledging all those present at the ceremony, including a female RCMP member, Campagnolo joked, “I remember in 1974 when the first 34 women became members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. I recollect a distinguished member of the senior ranks saying to me, ‘But how the heck are we going to teach them self defence?’ And I said, ‘Oh, we know a lot about self defence.”
Following the induction Campagnolo eloquently finished the ceremony with, “Our children and our grandchildren and our great grandchildren, they are our gifts to the future. And all we can do as educators and thoughtful human beings is open the door for them to walk through. I want to thank you all for this honour. It has humbled me and I am grateful for it.”