Former federal minister Monique Bégin, one of the first three women from Quebec to be elected to the House of Commons, died Friday at the age of 87.
A statement released in her memory on Saturday says Bégin died in Ottawa surrounded by family and loved ones after receiving palliative care.
Before entering the House of Commons, Bégin built a reputation as a feminist pioneer in Quebec.
In 1966, she was a signatory of the founding charter of the Fédération des femmes du Québec, for which she served as the first vice-president.
The following year, she was named secretary general of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Status of Women in Canada. The report it published in 1970 remains important to this day.
It was in 1972 that Bégin kicked off her parliamentary career, becoming the MP representing Saint-Michel for Pierre Elliott Trudeau's Liberal Party.
As an MP, Bégin handled the national revenue and national health and welfare portfolios.
"As a passionate sociologist, she created the child tax credit and championed legislation to increase the guaranteed income supplement," reads the statement.
"Her greatest achievement was the unanimous adoption of the Canada Health Act by the Parliament of Canada in 1984."
During her time as a Liberal MP in Pierre Trudeau's cabinet, Bégin, left, advanced federal policies on issues like inequality, health, poverty and women's rights. (McGill-Queen's University Press)
'Remains an inspiration'
After 12 years in politics, Bégin pivoted toward an academic career, becoming the dean of the University of Ottawa's faculty of health sciences in 1990. She was named professor emeritus in 1997.
That same year, she was named an officer of the Order of Canada by the governor general for her work in advancing the rights of certain vulnerable groups, as well as for her progressive welfare policies.
In 2020, she was promoted to companion of the Order of Canada.
"She remains an inspiration to generations of leaders, particularly women who can now occupy a wider range of senior management positions in government and academia, as a result of her activism," reads the page dedicated to her on the governor general's website.
In a statement issued Saturday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called Bégin a trailblazer for Canadian women and a passionate advocate who left a lasting mark on Canada.
"Ms. Bégin received numerous honours for her work, including the first Dr. Brock Chisholm medal from the Medical Society of the World Health Organization in Geneva as well as honorary doctorates from 14 universities," the statement reads.
Members of the public can pay tribute to Bégin during a ceremony on Nov. 2 at the University of Ottawa.