Jocelyne Roy Vienneau, N.B. lieutenant-governor, dies after cancer battle

FREDERICTON — New Brunswick Lt.-Gov. Jocelyne Roy Vienneau, the first Acadian woman to hold the office, has died after a battle with cancer, her office announced Friday.

The 63-year-old native of Robertville, N.B., became the province’s 31st lieutenant-governor on Oct. 23, 2014, after a long career focused on economic development and education.

Her death comes after she announced in September that she had been diagnosed with cancer in the spring of 2018 and had been undergoing chemotherapy.

In a statement, Premier Blaine Higgs paid tribute to Roy Vienneau’s service to the province.

“Ms. Roy Vienneau was a passionate advocate for this province and its people throughout her career, and during her time as lieutenant-governor championed literacy, mental health issues, and the need for a new sense of pride for the place we call home,” Higgs said. “She gave so much to New Brunswick and will be missed by everyone whose life she touched.”

Roy Vienneau was one of the first women to graduate from the faculty of engineering at the Universite de Moncton and went on become vice-president of a campus at the Universite de Moncton and the first woman to direct a francophone community college in the province.

She also served as an assistant deputy minister for post-secondary education in the province and worked for 23 years as a dean, a department head and professor at the New Brunswick Community College in Bathurst. She was principal during her last six years at the college.

Last October she was thrust into the middle of a political storm when the Liberals sought to remain in power following a provincial election that left them with one less seat than the Progressive Conservatives. The Conservatives ultimately formed the government.

“Her steadfast leadership during the historic election and transition period last fall provided stability to our province,” Higgs said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau praised Roy Vienneau’s career and achievements.

“A former engineer and educator, Ms. Roy Vienneau made many important contributions to her home province and the Acadian community,” Trudeau said in a statement. “Her work will continue to inspire future leaders for years to come.”

The announcement of her appointment as lieutenant governor was made by former prime minister Stephen Harper before the opening of the World Acadian Congress in Edmundston, N.B. in August 2014.

“Jocelyne Roy Vienneau’s career as an engineer, educator, manager and senior administrator, as well as her immense contributions to business and community development in New Brunswick, make her an excellent choice as lieutenant-governor, ” Harper said at the time.

“She has been a tireless champion of her community, the province’s business sector and its post-secondary education system.”

The province said Friday that official events at Government House in Fredericton were cancelled until further notice and funeral details would be made available in the coming days through the provincial Protocol Office.

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