Nancy Riche dead at 66

Published on October 2, 2011
Nancy Riche died on Saturday at the age of 66. —Telegram file photo

The provincial labour movement is mourning the loss of a prominent, long-time advocate for workers rights.

Nancy Riche died Saturday in St. John’s at the age of 66 from heart problems. She had been in hospital since last Friday.

Riche held prominent positions with a number of national and provincial labour groups, and was well known for her involvement with the New Democratic Party.

The St. John’s native served as secretary-treasurer for the Canadian Labour Congress and vice-president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour.

For the NDP, Riche served federally as its associate president for labour and also spent five years as president of the provincial party from 2003-2008.

Provincial NDP leader Lorraine Michael called Riche an inspiring feminist and a strong promoter of human rights.

“Nancy worked unstintingly to help the vulnerable and she believed in a better future for all of us in Newfoundland and Labrador,” she said in a prepared statement.

Riche had been involved in campaigning efforts with the party for the Oct. 11 provincial election prior to her hospitalization.

“I know she would not want us to be sad at her death, but to celebrate her amazing life with all the wonderful people that are her friends and to continue working on the campaign,” said Michael.

Premier Kathy Dunderdale offered her condolences in a news release sent out on Sunday.

“I was shocked and saddened to learn of her passing. Her contributions to this province were many, in her roles as activist, feminist and champion of workers' rights. She has left a substantial legacy that will never be forgotten.”

Liberal leader Kevin Aylward also commented on Riche’s passing in a news release.

“She was a tireless advocate for social and labour rights and made Newfoundland and Labrador a better place,” he said.

Riche was the receipient of several awards over the years, including the National Action Committee on the Status of Women (NAC) Woman of Courage Award, the Governor-General’s Award in Commemoration of the Persons Case, and the AFL-CIO George Meary-Lane Kirkland Human Rights Award.

In 2009 she received the  Elijah Barayi award from the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) for her contribution to the struggle against  apartheid.

She was awarded the Order of Canada in 2003.

Check Monday's edition of The Telegram for more on the passing of Riche.