Lillian McGregor was a nurse, an educator, and an Aboriginal Elder. Born on Birch Island, 100km southwest of Sudbury, Lillian McGregor moved to Toronto at the age of 15 to work as a nanny and pursue her education, eventually becoming a nurse. Throughout her life, she strived to celebrate and sustain Aboriginal culture and tradition in the urban density of Toronto.
In 1994, following a 40-year career in nursing, McGregor was invited to serve as the first Elder-in-Residence at First Nations House at the University of Toronto, where she provided support, guidance, and teachings to Aboriginal students. In 1996, she was the first Aboriginal woman to be awarded an honorary doctorate in law from the University of Toronto. She was made an Officer of the Order of Ontario in 2005, and received the National Aboriginal Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011.
“My desire to preserve our Aboriginal culture, tradition, and spirituality became a well-known attribute; and I was soon busier than I had ever been in the everyday workforce. I welcomed the opportunity to assist my own Native community.”
Described as having an “unstinting generosity of spirit and unfailing diligence,” by Anita Benedict, former Director of First Nations House, Lillian McGregor strengthened the urban community of Aboriginal people in Toronto, while helping uphold their history and culture.