Independent Manitoba senator Patricia Bovey will be in Thompson Feb. 12 to address the Thompson Chamber of Commerce at a special lunch meeting and says that she will speak to the group about issues affecting Manitoba’s North, the role of artistic expression in the world's understanding of Canada and work being done on climate change.
Bovey, who was appointed to the Senate in November 2016 and is the deputy chair of the Special Senate Committee on the Arctic, says the Canada’s northern regions have been an interest of hers for many years.
“I’ve been up to Churchill many times,” said Bovey Feb. 7. “I worked on the [proposed] Aboriginal Art Centre [in Thompson] for a few years. It’s a part of the country that’s very dear to my heart.”
A former director of both the Winnipeg Art Gallery and the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria as well as the author of numerous books about Canadian art, Bovey says her first time in Thompson was around 2005, en route to Churchill via the Hudson Bay Railway, though she has not been to the city since becoming a senator a couple of years ago. When flooding derailed the Hudson Bay Railway north of Gillam in the spring of 2017, Bovey says she immediately became interested in finding a way to restore it.
“The minute I read the headline I was phoning [Churchill] Mayor [Michael] Spence on the Saturday, Sunday morning and bird-dogged that project like you wouldn’t believe,” she says. “I believe it’s vital to Thompson. I think it’s vital to all the communities along the line and I think it’s vital to Churchill and all the Canadian North.”
Being a senator has allowed Bovey to develop an interest in areas that she didn’t know she cared about, like self-driving vehicles.
“I was deputy chair for awhile of the Transport and Communications Committee when we were doing the study on autonomous vehicles and so I’m going to be talking a little bit about my interest in that area,” Bovey says. ”I didn’t think I had an interest in that area until we got studying it and then I was hooked.”
In addition to speaking to chamber members, Bovey says she is also planning to listen to individuals and organizations in Thompson.
“I’m looking forward to seeing what’s going on at University College of the North,” she said. “I’m looking forward to meeting people I had the privilege of working with when we were doing the [Aboriginal Art Centre] feasibility studies. I appreciate what’s going on with the mine and the stress that’s going to put on the community. I’m coming up both to look and listen as well as to say, ‘This is what I’m doing and this is where it’s sitting, keep me posted as to how you all feel you fit in.’”
Becoming a senator was an idea that stuck Bovey as ridiculous at the time that she was nominated.
“My first reaction was I laughed,” she recalls. “I said, ‘I can’t do that.’ There’s never been anybody from the visual arts and from the museum sector and then I got looking at it and I thought. ‘You know, this could be really interesting.’ When one is an art museum director, which I was for decades in several places, we present contemporary societal issues from multiple perspectives to multiple audiences all the time. That’s exactly what I’m doing in the Senate, trying to take a look at issues that Canadians face and particularly Manitobans face and artists face. How do I bring them forward, give voice to them and make sure they’re entered into the dialogue and consideration of the Senate as a whole?”
Bovey says she is proud not only to represent Manitoba but to do so as an independent senator.
“I’m a proud Manitoban and it’s a real honour to represent this province in the Senate of Canada,” she says. “Anybody who’s known me since I was very little, they’ve known that I’ve always been independent. I think it’s really important for everybody to know I’m not a Winnipeg senator, I’m a Manitoba senator and it’s really important for me to be able to get to various parts of the province and reflect those parts of the province back to the Senate. I’m really, really keen to hear issues, hear concerns because unless they’re articulated there’s not anything we can do about them.”
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Senator Patricia Bovey, who joined the Senate in November 2016, is speaking to the Thompson Chamber of Commerce Feb. 12.
Thompson Citizen photo courtesy Thompson Chamber of Commerce