Find an in-depth biography of Lorraine Michael, leader of the New Democratic Party of Newfoundland and Labrador and Member of the Legislative Assembly for Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi.
Early Beginnings and Educational Achievements
Lorraine Michael was born in St. John’s, and raised in the Lebanese community. Her educational achievements include degrees from Memorial University of Newfoundland and the University of Toronto.
Michael was a nun until she left the Roman Catholic Church in 1993 over conflicts with the local Archdiocese, including the Archdiocese’s handling of an alleged sexual assault case.
Michael began her career as a high school teacher on Bell Island, subsequently becoming a school principal in the Roman Catholic School Board system. She also worked as a teacher in Baie Verte, the Burin Peninsula, and the Codroy Valley.
She is best known as a social activist and feminist committed to gender, racial, social, and economic justice. In her work as Director of the Office of Social Action in St. John’s, Michael represented the Roman Catholic Archdiocese on several regional and national coalitions for social justice. She furthered her work with gender-based analysis and research on an international level as she studied the effects of globalization on women’s work.
It was Michael’s work with the Toronto-based Ecumenical Coalition for Economic Justice (ECEJ) that took her to forums in Mexico, Chile, and Zimbabwe as a speaker on economic globalization. She has also coordinated the administrative and program affairs of feminist organizations. Michael served as Chair of the Women’s Work Campaign for the National Action Committee on the Status of Women and, for a period, served as the committee’s Interim Executive Director. Additionally, Michael served as Executive Director of Women in Resource Development Committee; in that capacity she worked to achieve employment equity in the natural resource department sectors in the province by consulting with industry, labour, government, and educators.
As an Innu Nation nominee sitting on the Voisey’s Bay Environmental Assessment Panel from 1997 to 1999, Ms. Michael brought a strong socio-economic analysis to discussions pertaining to the proposed Voisey’s Bay nickel mine development.
Michael has also been involved in a number of other policy committees.
During the New Democratic Party of Newfoundland and Labrador Party’s convention on May 28, 2006, Michael won the leadership and took over from outgoing leader Jack Harris, MHA. She easily defeated writer Nina Patey, winning 107 votes to Patey’s 5.
Personal and Community Life
When Michael is not working, her passion is music. She enjoys playing the piano, and is a member of the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra.