Cree scholar 'in shock' after being appointed to Senate seat

Margo Greenwood, a professor at the University of Northern British Columbia, has served as scientific director of the Institute of Indigenous Peoples’ Health. (Supplied by the University of Northern British Columbia - image credit)
Margo Greenwood, a professor at the University of Northern British Columbia, has served as scientific director of the Institute of Indigenous Peoples’ Health. (Supplied by the University of Northern British Columbia - image credit)

Margo Greenwood said she was "in shock" after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced she will become the newest member of the Senate.

A professor at the University of Northern British Columbia in Prince George, Greenwood is an internationally recognized expert in health research, specifically Indigenous health and well-being, says a press release from the Prime Minister's Office.

She also has held a number of roles in research institutions and served as vice-president of Indigenous health for the Northern Health Authority of British Columbia.

She will fill a vacant Senate seat for B.C. and sit as an Independent, the Prime Minister's Officer said.

Greenwood said she got the news of her appointment in a call from the prime minister "about a week ago."

"He asked me if I wanted to be a senator and I said, 'OK,'" she said from her home in Vernon, B.C. "It was pretty exciting."

Greenwood, who is Cree on her father's side, grew up on Treaty 6 lands in central Alberta. She moved to B.C. in her late teens and since 1997 has been with the University of Northern British Columbia, where she is a professor in the education program.

Supplied by the National Collaborating Centre for Indigenous Health (NCCIH)
Supplied by the National Collaborating Centre for Indigenous Health (NCCIH)

She's an academic leader for the National Collaborating Centre for Indigenous Health and earlier this year was named interim scientific director for the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the federal agency for funding health research.

In 2021, she was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada for her work on early childhood education and Indigenous health policy and is a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee medal.

Speaking Thursday, Greenwood said she would be bringing her perspective as an Cree woman and mother to the Senate and that she takes seriously the job of providing "sober second thought" on Canadian laws.

"I think this is an opportunity where I can really think about what we're facing as a country, as a province, and hopefully be able to share my own experiences and my own thinking," she said. "It's incredibly important that we consider the diversity of the country in which we live."