National | Media Release

NFU Mourns the Passing of Founding President, Roy Atkinson

The National Farmers Union (NFU) wishes to express sincere condolences to the family of Roy Atkinson, who served as our organization’s first President from 1969 until 1978.

“It is often said that we can see as far as we do today because we stand upon the shoulders of giants,” said Jan Slomp, NFU President. “Roy Atkinson is certainly one of those giants. His legacy as our farm movement’s leader is unmistakable. He was one of the visionaries who brought provincial farm unions together to create the foundation of our present national organization.”

Former NFU President (2001-2009), Stewart Wells, places Roy Atkinson in the same league as the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool, the Canadian Wheat Board, Tommy Douglas, Woodrow Lloyd and Medicare. “Roy was a man of tremendous intellect and discipline,” said Wells. “He believed if you gave people all the information they would make the right decision, and that people should be able to control their own means of production and marketing.”

“Roy Atkinson dedicated his life to confronting the powers that are intent on unravelling farmers’ livelihoods. Older NFU members recall the massive tractor rallies and blockades that farmers organized with Roy at the helm. His sharp analysis of economic and political forces informed his very practical and uncompromising positions in defence of family farmers’ interests.” said Nettie Wiebe, who was NFU President from 1995 to 1998.

“Roy was a courageous leader. He fought for and with farm families to protect their economic interests and their way of life,” continued Wiebe. “He was a clear-eyed strategist who understood the political dynamics of his times. Time and again, he made sure that politicians had to face the farmers on their own terms and see the people whose lives were affected by their policies. Farmers of our generation continue to benefit from Roy’s legacy.”

Roy Atkinson was the President of the Saskatchewan Farmers Union from 1962 until 1969. He was a key figure in creating the National Farmers Union in 1969, which brought together the Ontario, Manitoba, BC and Saskatchewan Farmers Unions, with the support of the Maritime organizations. He served as NFU President until 1978. After retirement from elected office at the NFU, he continued to promote farmers’ interests as an active leader in the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool and other co-operatives. In 2002 he was named to the Order of Canada.

He will be missed. Our thoughts go out to his family.

A Memorial Reception in Celebration of Roy Atkinson’s life will take place in Saskatoon on May 27, 2016, at the Battleford Room at the Bessborough Hotel at 3 p.m. Read Obituary