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Memorable Manitobans: Oscar Lathlin (1947-2008)

Aboriginal chief, MLA (1990-1995), MLA (1996-2007), MLA (2007-2008).

Born on the Opaskwayak Cree Nation near The Pas on 20 May 1947, he attended high school at Frontier Collegiate in Cranberry Portage, graduating in 1969. He later returned to his community and worked as a band manager. He was named executive director of the Swampy Cree Tribal Council in 1979, and was elected chief of The Pas Band in 1985. He also worked as an advisor to the Native Teacher Education Program, served on various committees of the Assembly of First Nations and was a senior advisor for the federal government.

In 1990 he was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba for the The Pas constituency, being re-elected in 1995. The NDP lost both of these campaigns, and he served as critic for Native Affairs, Constitutional Development and Community Economic Development during his time as an opposition MLA. He and the NDP won the general election of 1999. He was subsequently named Minister of Conservation in Gary Doer’s first cabinet. In September 2002, he was transferred to the Ministry of Aboriginal and Northern Affairs, also holding responsibility for the Communities Economic Development Fund. He was re-elected in the provincial elections of 2003 and 2007.

He died at The Pas, while in office, on 1 November 2008 and was buried in the Emmanuel Cemetery on Opaskwayak Cree Nation.


“He served with passion, honesty,” Winnipeg Free Press, 3 November 2008, page A3.

Members of the Legislative Assembly (deceased), Legislative Assembly of Manitoba.

We thank Ralph McLean for providing additional information used here.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 29 November 2020

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

This is a collection of noteworthy Manitobans from the past, compiled by the Manitoba Historical Society. We acknowledge that the collection contains both reputable and disreputable people. All are worth remembering as a lesson to future generations.

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