Lindsay honoured at NDP supper

Sixty years is a long time to dedicate to any cause.
Owen Lindsay of Atikokan has dedicated more than 60 years to democratic socialism in Canada, and was honoured for his efforts at a tribute supper Saturday night at the Ukrainian Hall here.
“I’m overwhelmed,” he said in an interview before the festivities began. “I thought there would be about 20 people here, but there’s got to be more than 100.
“There’s people here I’ve never even met,” he added.
The attendance was testimony to the impact Lindsay has had in Rainy River District—and the respect he has earned.
“Owen has been the backbone of the NDP for many, many years now,” Ontario NDP leader and local MPP Howard Hampton said during a speech to those on hand.
“Everyone in the Rainy River District has benefited from the contributions Owen Lindsay has made,” he added.
Hampton recalled a time in the early 1970s—as he was just beginning to get involved with the party—when he turned up late for a volunteer shift on the local candidate’s campaign.
Lindsay, who had worked a full shift at the mill during the day and was running the campaign in the evenings, scolded the teen for his tardiness.
“To this day, he continues to hound people in Atikokan to join the NDP,” Hampton noted.
He also commended Lindsay for writing letters to the editors of district newspapers on an almost weekly basis.
“He reads voraciously. He’s got an opinion about everything. I can count on a voicemail message from him at least every two weeks to let me know what I should be doing,” Hampton laughed.
Lindsay was born in Saskatchewan. He first got involved with the New Democratic Party—then known as the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF)—in 1943 in Niagara Falls.
“We didn’t have any organization in the north at that time,” he explained.
Lindsay soon took care of that. By 1959, he was the CCF candidate in Atikokan-Rainy River. This was the last year to run under the CCF banner as the name was changed to the NDP in 1962.
He ran again as the NDP candidate in Atikokan-Rainy River in 1963.
While he never held public office, Lindsay continued to work for the party behind the scenes—signing up members, putting on banquets and fundraisers, and attending policy conventions.
Public service has been important in his life beyond politics, as well. Lindsay helped form the first union in Canadian Aviation. He worked as a miner in Atikokan and served as president of his local miners’ union.
He also has served as chair of the Atikokan Board of Education, the Atikokan Hospital board, and the Atikokan Chamber of Commerce.
Lindsay himself addressed the crowd after Hampton.
“Howard has given me a considerable amount of praise for what I’ve done in the CCF and the NDP, but there are many other people,” he noted.
“We kept the two ends of the riding tied together even though there was no road between Atikokan and Rainy River,” he remarked.
Lindsay recalled the early years of the party when people took abuse for joining the NDP, but said the journey has been well worthwhile.
“We’ve had a lot of fun along the way,” he said. “It’s been very rewarding.”
Lindsay concluded by thanking everyone in attendance for their support, and by encouraging them to continue to make the party successful.
“I see all the grey hairs in here,” he noted. “We haven’t got enough young people in our organization. We have to try to get young people interested in politics.”
Also honoured at Saturday night’s supper were Ron Helliar and Victor and Maria Lindholm. All three received lifetime NDP memberships for their years of commitment to the party.