Northerners and other Manitobans expressed shock and paid tribute to Thompson NDP MLA Danielle Adams following news that she was killed in a crash on Highway 6 Dec. 9.
Adams, 38, was travelling south about 50 kilometres south of Ponton when her SUV collided with a semi headed north, police said Dec. 10.
Wabowden RCMP were notified of the collision around 11:20 a.m. Thursday and attended the scene along with emergency medical services and personnel from multiple fire departments.
Adams was pronounced dead at the scene while the truck driver, a 54-year-old man from the rural municipality of Alexander, was not physically injured.
RCMP said road conditions at the time of the crash were poor and that neither speed nor alcohol appear to be factors in the fatal accident.
Wabowden RCMP, the Criminal Collision Investigation Team and a forensic collision reconstructionist are investigating.
News of Adams’s death came from the NDP in a news release around 6:45 p.m. Thursday evening.
“Danielle’s passing is heartbreaking on so many levels – she was a young, caring mother who wore her heart on her sleeve,” said NDP leader Wab Kinew. “She was a fierce advocate for her constituents in Thompson and always made Northern Manitobans a priority. Our movement and our team will miss her deeply. I know I and my NDP colleagues will honour her life and legacy by continung to fight hard for the things Danielle stood for.”
Married with two young sons, Adams served as the NDP critic for child care, housing, disability and poverty matters. She was elected as Thompson’s MLA in 2019, defeating Progressive Conservative one-term incumbent Kelly Bindle in her first campaign for elected office, becoming Thompson's first female representative in the Manitoba legislature with the victory. Prior to that, she was Churchill-Keewatinook NDP MP Niki Ashton’s constituency assistant for many years.
“Danielle was my friend,” Ashton said in a Dec. 9 Facebook post. “We knew each other since high school. She was my colleague. We worked together for almost 10 years. So many memories. Danielle was a feminist, an activist, s committed New Democrat, a proud northerner. As an MLA and a person, Danielle believed in our region. She believed in building a better future for all of us. Words can not express the loss we feel.”
Adams lived in Thompson since 1994, when she was 11 years old and the city’s mayor said the Hub of the North and all of Northern Manitoba has lost a champion.
“I am horribly saddened to hear about the sudden passing of Danielle Adams,” Smook said in City of Thompson social media post Dec. 9. “The problems we faced were difficult but she was a strong, principled partner with whom to lead our community and I’ll miss our relationship dearly. Passion like hers isn’t common, and northerners will feel her loss far and wide.”
Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Grand Chief Garrison Settee, whose organizatin represents 26 Northern Manitoba First Nations, said on social media that Adams was an ally who sought to make a difference in the north.
“She was truly an honest and humble person,” he said. “It was an honour to work with her.”
Adams’s work on behalf of residents of Keewatin Tribal Council’s (KTC) 11 northern First Nations, which suffer from isolation, high cost of living and a lack of essential services was also also noted and appreciate in a statement of condolence.
“She was a tireless advocate and supporter for the people of Northern Manitoba and our issues and will be greatly missed,” said KTC chairperson and Shamattawa First Nation Chief Eric Redhead, who said KTC leaders were in shock and disbelief at the news of Adams's death.
“She came to our community of Tataskweyak Cree Nation and Troy Lake for our gathering and pow wow and her last message to us was she wanted to know how our community was doing,” said KTC vice-chair and TCN Chief Doreen Spence.
The NDP MLA also received tribute from Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson.
“Danielle was tragically taken too soon,” Stefanson said in a statement emailed to media. “As the first female elected to represent the constituency of Thompson, she will be remembered as a strong voice for Northern Manitoba and staunch advocate for childcare, housing, poverty reduction and supporting Manitobans with disabilities. We all mourn her loss. She will be greatly missed in the Manitoba legislature. May she rest in peace.”
Thompson’s longest-serving MLA Steve Ashton, father of Niki, who represented the riding for 35 years until losing to Bindle in 2016, said the way Adams died was something that struck a chord with many northerners.
“It is a trip I know only too well from my own days as MLA,” he wrote. “Travelling south to fight for the north, Danielle Adams was one of our own. She will be missed.”