A respected Winnipeg social advocate who championed aboriginal rights died Thursday afternoon. Mary Richard was undergoing treatment following a kidney transplant in a city hospital. She was in her early 70's
Richard, who was named a member of the Order of Manitoba a decade ago, was the first executive director of Thunderbird House. The organization became a social-outreach centre under her guidance after it opened in 2000.
The community elder was also involved with the Aboriginal Council of Winnipeg and the Indian and Métis Friendship Centre. Wayne Helgason of Winnipeg's Social Planning Council said Richard's legacy started at the Friendship Centre. "Mary was the most vibrant executive director at a time when there was very little aboriginal organizational capacity in Winnipeg ... She started as the janitor basically."
Richard was also a key part of a task force examining social problems in Winnipeg's aboriginal community.
Richard twice ran for public office at the federal and provincial levels.