Sometimes when you meet a person for the first time you know that they are special. This is what I felt when I met Maggie Farrington for the first time. We met in a basement office of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (RMWB) in Fort McMurray. We were both there for media training. Maggie as part of work with the RMWB and me on behalf of a non-profit I was leading at the time. We bonded over yoga and fashion and living somewhere that neither of us was from but where we were making our homes. Maggie still lives in Fort McMurray where she is the CEO for the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation. But Maggie is also a former Crown prosecutor, an MBA, a mom, wife and daughter, a yoga instructor, a former candidate in the 2019 federal election and a serious, and I mean serious, lover of fashion. Maggie is inspirational in every way. Here's what she shared in the second edition of People of Madame Premier.
MP: Which female leaders are you inspired by and why?
Maggie: I'm always inspired by courageous female leaders, unafraid to confidently speak their truth and stand up to the "old boys club", like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Lately though, I'm completely in awe of our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Deena Hinshaw who is calm and composed in her daily updates to Albertans during this COVID-19 pandemic. She's unflappable and flawless in her updates, and her direct demeanour inspires confidence as we are collectively going through this public health emergency.
MP: Biggest misconception about Fort McMurray and how do you counter it when talking to people who have never been there?
Maggie: Fort McMurray is a brilliant place to raise kids, with great recreation amenities and so much beautiful nature to explore! Our kids are involved in competitive activities like hockey and dance, and there are so many opportunities for them to flourish. But the best part of Fort McMurray is the people. We've been here for almost 8 years and we've so grateful to have met so many incredible people along the way.
MP: If you open your phone browser, which stores pop up as being visited the most?
Maggie: Fluevog - I'm obsessed with these unique (and colourful!) shoes from a Canadian designer - I have about 80 pairs for Vogs now! Gucci - I'm all about mixing the high and low! I love to punctuate my otherwise simple outfits with high-end pieces, like a chic Gucci belt or bedazzled Gucci sneakers to take my look to the next level. UniqueVintage.com - I am obsessed with all things retro-inspired (only in fashion - not in politics!). My "look" is very 1950s, so I like to play that up with fun and colourful day dresses, chic slim pants, and fun vintage-inspired prints.
MP: If someone is visiting Fort Chipewyan, what would you tell them to do and why?
Maggie: Fort Chipewyan is an incredible community, the oldest settlement in Alberta (1788) and home to the Dene, Cree and Metis. Taking in a breath of fresh air on Monument Hill that overlooks Lake Athabasca quickly makes you realizes that you're in "God's Country." The breathtaking vistas of the lake are beautiful any time of year. I would also suggest visiting the Fort Chipewyan museum - it's a great little museum with many local artefacts that documents Fort Chipewyan's history since before it was settled in 1788. The next thing I would suggest is visiting the Catholic Church on the lakeshore if it's open. The vibrant and naturally-sourced painted frescos on the walls and ceiling are stunning. While there, you can also visit the Arbour where many community events like Treaty Days are now held, but it is also the site where the Holy Angels Residential School once stood. Take a moment to pay respect to those who lost so much at that residential school -- traditional ways of being, language, culture and so on.
MP: What thing in your closet do you wear the most and why?
Maggie: Smythe blazers are a staple for me. These blazers are great for work; they are stylish without being "trendy". I opt for prints and colours for my blazers, and ground it with solid-colour pants, skirts or jeans.
MP: If you could raid someone's closet, who would it be and why?
Maggie: Amal Clooney. She is also so impeccably dressed for every occasion. She is a fashion risk-taker who is not afraid of colour and prints, but it's subtle. She always stands out in the crowd, but makes it look comfortable effortless. Also, I would love to play dress up in RuPaul's closet! I am all about colour, embellishments, sequins, and over-the-top fun and camp in my fashion dreams!
MP: What moments are you most looking forward to when you think about your kids growing up?
Maggie: While I'm now at the "kids, don't hurry to grow up" phase, I want to travel around the world with them when they are old enough to really appreciate and understand the places we visit together. I want them to see how big the world is, and have the courage and compassion to take it on!