Dyck named to Canada's Senate
A U of S psychiatry professor was thrust into the national spotlight last week when Prime Minister Paul Martin appointed her and eight other Canadians to the Senate.
Prof. Lillian Eva Dyck, who is also Associate Dean of the College of Graduate Studies & Research, was appointed a senator on March 24. She says it became effective immediately. The swearing-in ceremony will be held in Ottawa on April 12.
The appointment sparked a national controversy when it was announced that Dyck would sit as the first-ever member of the New Democratic Party in the Senate. Federal NDP leader Jack Layton said his party wants the Senate to be abolished and he urged Dyck to sit as an Independent.
Dyck told On Campus News March 29 that she understands it is her decision as to what party affiliation she wants to declare, and she still has not decided whether that will be NDP or Independent. She says since the appointment she has received supportive phone calls from Saskatchewan’s NDP Premier Lorne Calvert and cabinet minister Pat Atkinson.
Dyck, 59, is of Chinese and Cree heritage and is a member of the Gordon First Nation near Punnichy, about 100 km north of Regina.
She earned her BA (Honours) and MSc in Biochemistry in 1968 and 1970 and her PhD in Biological Psychiatry in 1981 – all from the U of S. She specializes in neurochemistry, is a member of the U of S Neuropsychiatry Research Unit, and has conducted studies looking for drugs to help treat diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia.
Dyck has been an advocate for women and Aboriginal people and has often been cited as a role model in Canada’s scientific community.
She has received a number of awards including a National Aboriginal Achievement Award for Science & Technology in 1999 and a Saskatchewan First Nations Women of the Dawn Award in Science & Technology in 2000.
Dyck says “it’s humbling and an honour” to be named to the Senate. She admits it was “wrenching” when she realized she would be leaving her scientific work in Saskatoon to take on political matters in Ottawa. But she says she hopes in her Senate work to apply “all the things I’ve learned in many roles at this University – as a student, administrator and researcher”.
Dyck adds she also hopes to maintain some links to her research work at the U of S even while being a senator.