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It is with great sadness that CUPE has learned of the death of Sister Lucie Richard. Richard, on medical leave from her job as Quebec regional director, died of cancer on Sunday. She was 56.

“It’s a tremendous loss for the labour movement and CUPE in particular,” said CUPE National President Paul Moist. “Lucie was an activist and an outstanding organizer.”

CUPE National Secretary-Treasurer Claude Généreux said, “She always distinguished herself and gave her all. She was on the front line of all of our battles. We offer our sincere condolences to her family, friends and colleagues.”

Richard first became involved in the labour movement in 1968 when she joined the campaign to have the Syndicat des employées et employés de l’Université Laval (SEUL) join CUPE.

She went on to join the CUPE 2500 executive, and became its president in 1981. She will be remembered for having led joint bargaining for the first time in the university sector, including a strike in 1983 and a lockout in 1984.

In May 1984, the woman who was called a “rebel leader” by Le Soleil newspaper became president of CUPE Quebec. In March 1986, she became a union representative, a position she would hold until 1992, working in the health, education and municipal sectors and others.

She also took part in several organizing campaigns, notably with Brother Maurice Gaulin, and was involved in all health care sector representation votes.

In 1993, she left Quebec City to work at CUPE’s Montreal office as the union’s public sector co-ordinator.

In the 1990s, she continued to spearhead organizing campaigns, including major campaigns at Quebec City’s Laval Hospital, the Casino du Lac Leamy, Hydro-Québec’s specialized and professional employees and, more recently, a host of health care sector representation votes.

She became assistant director of CUPE-Québec in 2002, and regional director in February 2006. Soon after, she was diagnosed with cancer and had to go on medical leave.