Former Northwest Territories MLA Eliza Lawrence has passed away at the age of 80.

Lawrence was elected to the 10th legislative assembly in 1983 representing the newly-created electoral district of Tu Nedhé. She would go on to serve one term until 1987.

Outside of public office, Lawrence worked as a nurse and nutritional educator and is recognized as one of the founders of the NWT Native Women’s Association.

Born in Fort Resolution, Lawrence was the third oldest of 17 children.

After training to become a nurse in Fort Smith, her work brought her to Fort Resolution, Edmonton and Yellowknife among other communities.

Lawrence also took pride in preserving her heritage by dancing with the Métis Reelers group and later working for the territorial government’s Language Bureau.

Current Tu Nedhé-Wiilideh MLA Tom Beaulieu acknowledged her passing Tuesday.

“I know that there are people who still talk about the good things Eliza did as the representative of the people of Tu Nedhé,” he said. “She was a true friend to many.”

Speaker Jackson Lafferty added: “Mrs. Lawrence was a dedicated Northerner who made an impact serving as an MLA, working in the field of nursing, advocating for women, and preserving her Aboriginal heritage.

“On behalf of all members of this assembly, we offer our deepest condolences to the friends, family and loved ones of Eliza Lawrence.”

Lawrence passed away in Grande Prairie on Sunday.