Two Indigenous leaders receive honorary degrees

Senator Murray Sinclair and National Chief Perry Bellegarde among four Queen’s recipients

Queen’s awarded two Indigenous leaders with honorary degrees.
Credit: 
Journal File Photo

This week, Canadian Senator Murray Sinclair and National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Perry Bellegarde were both scheduled to receive Honorary Doctorate of Laws (LLD) at Queen’s graduation ceremonies.

Bellegarde was awarded his LLD on Nov. 13, and Sinclair will receive his on Nov. 15. The other two honorary degree recipients for the November convocations include Margaret Murphy and Ann Dowsett Johnston.

Queen’s Senate policy dictates that nominees for an honorary degree need to have made a significant contribution nationally or internationally in their field of work to be successful candidates.

According to his profile on the Senate of Canada’s website, Sinclair was “the first Aboriginal judge appointed in Manitoba and Canada’s second [Aboriginal judge].” He has served on the Canadian Senate since April of 2016.

Sinclair was also co-chair of the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry in Manitoba, as well as the chief commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).

In his role as chief commissioner, Sinclair was tasked with participating in hundreds of hearings across Canada and oversaw a multi-million-dollar TRC fundraising project that supported TRC events, activities, and Indigenous participation in them.

Outside his upcoming honorary degree, Sinclair has also been recognized with numerous awards, including the National Aboriginal Achievement Award, the 2001 Manitoba Bar Association’s Equality Award, and its 2016 Distinguished Service Award.

Like Sinclair, Bellegarde has also been recognized through numerous awards, including the Confederation Medal, the Saskatchewan Medal, the Queen’s Jubilee Medal, and the Saskatchewan Order of Merit.

According to the AFN’s website, Bellegarde has “experience and expertise in leadership at all levels of First Nations governance.”

During his time as an Indigenous leader, Bellegarde has facilitated negotiations that led to the 25-year Gaming Agreement, led his community, Little Black Bear First Nation, out of third-party management, and established a national multi-million-dollar compensation package for First Nations veterans and their families. Through his work for the AFN, the chief has stewarded the national advocacy organization, which represents Indigenous citizens in Canada.

 

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