10/02/2011 04:44 EDT | Updated 12/02/2011 05:12 EST

Nancy Riche, women's rights and labour activist, dies at 66 from heart problems

OTTAWA - One of Canada's leading women labour leaders has died on Saturday due to complications from a heart condition.

Nancy Riche, an activist for women's and workers' rights and a seasoned union leader and activist, was 66.

Riche is heavily involved in the NDP and was the federal NDP's associate president of labour.

She was a former Secretary-Treasurer at the Canadian Labour Congress and was the vice-president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour until 1984.

In 1995, Riche was awarded an Honorary Degree from Memorial University of Newfoundland, where she graduated in 1977.

She received the National Action Committee on the Status of Women Woman of Courage Award and the Governor-General's Award in Commemoration of the Persons Case.

Riche also became an officer of the order of Canada in 2002.

"We are all saddened by Nancy's death. Workers everywhere have lost a fighter," says Ken Georgetti, president of the Canadian Labour Congress.

"Nancy's contribution to the social fabric of Canada will live on in the work of the countless labour and women's activists whose lives she touched and inspired," he said.