Sandra Lovelace Nicholas ~ Maliseet

Published on May 13, 2011 by Amy

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Sandra Lovelace Nicholas
Sandra Lovelace Nicholas

Mary Sandra Lovelace Nicholas, CM (born April 15, 1948) is a Wolastoqiyik or Maliseet Canadian senator representing New Brunswick. Sitting as a Liberal, she is the first aboriginal woman appointed to the Senate. As an activist on behalf of First Nations women and children, she received international recognition and in 1985 succeeded in having Parliament revoke a discriminatory section of the Indian Act.

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Early life and education

Sandra Lovelace was born a Maliseet in the Tobique First Nation. She studied at St. Thomas University and also obtained a degree in residential construction from the Maine Northern Technical College. As a young woman, she became an activist for aboriginal rights and has also worked as a carpenter.


Lovelace became known internationally as an activist when, in 1977, she petitioned the United Nations over the treatment by the Canadian government of aboriginal women and children in Canada, in the case known as Sandra Lovelace v. Canada. Among the policies she criticized was revoking the status of a First Nations woman (and her children) if she married a non-aboriginal man. This had effects in property rights and other issues.

In 1985, Lovelace Nicholas was finally successful in her campaign to have the law changed. Parliament passed an amendment to have a 116-year-old section of the Indian Act removed that revoked an aboriginal woman’s Indian status if she married a non-aboriginal man. This protected the status for First Nations women and children, and was important in preserving the culture of descendents who identified as aboriginal.

In 2005 she was the first aboriginal woman appointed to the Senate, where she sits as a Liberal.

Marriage and family

She married xx Nicholas and is the mother of four children.

Legacy and honors

  • 1990, Lovelace Nicholas was made a Member of the Order of Canada.
  • 1992, she received one of the annual five Governor General’s Awards in Commemoration of the Persons Case, recognizing women’s achievements.
  • 2005, she was appointed senator from New Brunswick by Prime Minister Paul Martin.

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Based on the collective work of, © 2015 Native American Encyclopedia.
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