National funeral held in Montreal for Claire Kirkland-Casgrain
MONTREAL – Hundreds of people gathered at the Marie-Reine-du-Monde Cathedral Saturday to pay their respects to a female pioneer.
Claire Kirkland-Casgrain was a woman of many firsts.
In 1961, she became the first woman in Quebec to be elected to the National Assembly.
She was also the first female cabinet minister, holding portfolios such as transport, tourism, communications and cultural affairs.
In 1973, she went on to become the first female provincial judge.
And on Saturday morning, she marked another first by being the first woman in Quebec history to be honoured with a national funeral.
“Today is a day for remembrance and gratitude from all Quebecers to a great person and a great woman in Quebec history,” said Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard.
Along with Couillard, other Quebec politicians were in attendance.
Former premier, Jean Charest described Kirkland-Casgrain as courageous and said her life is a marker in Quebec history.
“She was very courageous to open the way for a lot of other women who would follow behind and to work in an environment where she wasn’t always accepted or not automatically accepted.”
Also in attendance, Quebec’s first female premier, Pauline Marois.
She said Kirkland-Casgrain broke down barriers for women like her.
Marois said she met Kirkland-Casgrain a few times and she was always very pleasant.
She said she had a certain kind of character, which she believes one needed to have done what she did, in the time she did it.
Stéphanie Vallée echoed Marois’ comments.
“She really traced the way for us all and she was a great inspiration,” she said. “She went forward and decided to change things for the better.”
Beyond her incredible achievements, Kirkland-Casgrain was a loving wife, mother and grandmother and leaves behind her husband, three children and grandchildren.
Claire Kirkland-Casgrain died March 24. She was 91.
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