May 15, 2023
For Immediate Release
WATERLOO — Juno-winning opera star Jane Archibald (B.Mus. ’99) and Indigenous rights champion Wilton Littlechild are among five accomplished Canadians who will receive honorary degrees at Wilfrid Laurier University’s 2023 spring convocation ceremonies. Brantford campus ceremonies will be held at the Sanderson Centre for the Performing Arts on June 6, and Waterloo campus ceremonies will be held at Lazaridis Hall from June 12-16.
The honorary degree recipients are:
Laurier will also present the Order of Wilfrid Laurier University to Kenneth Hewitt, professor emeritus of Geography and Environmental Studies, at the first Waterloo ceremony on June 12 at 1 p.m.
Honorary Doctor of Laws | June 6 at 10 a.m., Sanderson Centre, Brantford
As retired president of the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO), Lipinski made a transformational impact on Ontario-Métis relations by successfully negotiating the MNO–Ontario Framework Agreement. In stark contrast to generations of government policy that denied the very existence of Ontario Métis, the agreement recognizes the unique identity, history, culture and rights of Ontario Métis communities. The agreement led to similar agreements with other government ministries, agencies and post-secondary institutions. Lipinski retired in 2016 after two decades of service at the MNO, leaving a legacy of advocacy that improved quality of life for Métis people.
A former teacher, Lipinski hails from Fort Frances, Ont., from a long line of Métis commercial fishermen and traditional resource users.
Honorary Doctor of Laws | June 13 at 9:30 a.m., Lazaridis Hall, Waterloo
A decorated athlete, Bujold is an 11-time national boxing champion from Kitchener, Ont. She won gold medals at the 2011 and 2015 Pan American games and a bronze medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Having competed at the Olympic Summer Games in Rio (2016) and Tokyo (2020), Bujold battled hard to make her way to the 2020 Games, inspiring mothers and athletes everywhere by successfully advocating for the International Olympic Committee to accommodate women who are pregnant or postpartum during the qualification process. Bujold is the founder of a local charity, Champions for Charity, supporter of small business, and is active in the Waterloo Region community.
Honorary Doctor of Laws | June 14 at 9:30 a.m., Lazaridis Hall, Waterloo
An accomplished lawyer, respected politician, exceptional athlete and pioneer for the global Indigenous rights movement, Littlechild has worked tirelessly to promote human rights, in particular those of Indigenous peoples. Formerly a commissioner for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, he rose to success despite living through 14 years of residential school from the age of 6 — choosing to focus on sports such as baseball, hockey and swimming.
Instead of pursuing a career in hockey, he became the first Alberta Treaty First Nation person to receive a law degree from the University of Alberta and went on to become the first Treaty Indian Member of Parliament. He served a five-year term as an MP (1988-’93), representing the riding of Wetaskiwin, Alta., and was also a parliamentary delegate to the UN.
Honorary Doctor of Music | June 16 at 9:30 a.m., Lazaridis Hall, Waterloo
Celebrated opera star Jane Archibald has performed in the most renowned opera houses and concert halls in the world, including the Metropolitan Opera, Bavarian State Opera, Paris Opera, La Scala Milan and Carnegie Hall. This year, the Laurier alumna made her debut as the title role in Salome at the Teatro Petruzzelli in Italy. She will also open the BBC Scottish Symphony’s season in a concert that will be broadcast on radio and television. In concert, Archibald is the soprano soloist in performances with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, National Arts Centre Orchestra, Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Seattle Symphony.
A Juno Award winner, she appears on numerous recordings, most recently in the acclaimed release of Bernstein’s Candide with the London Symphony Orchestra.
Honorary Doctor of Laws | June 16 at 9:30 a.m., Lazaridis Hall, Waterloo
Known as “The Million Dollar Teacher,” MacDonnell was chosen from more than 20,000 nominated teachers from 179 countries as the winner of the $1-million Global Teacher Prize. She has spent decades teaching with and learning from resilient populations across the globe, across the globe; from Congolese refugees to Inuit in the fly-in village of Salluit in the Canadian Arctic.
MacDonnell tears down the traditional classroom walls and co-creates new ones, rooted in a pedagogy of community and empowerment and one that sees her students as agents of change. Working together, she drew upon their talents and motivations to address their very real challenges. That looked like creating one of the world’s most northern fitness centres to offer a welcoming, healthy and safe space for youth. It also looked like an Inuit girls’ adventure club which provided connection to the land and female role models, as well as bike workshops, a student cafe, suicide prevention workshops and so much more. In the midst of seemingly insurmountable challenges, including a suicide crisis, MacDonnell has inspired students to become agents of change in their own community.
Order of Wilfrid Laurier University | June 12 at 1 p.m., Lazaridis Hall, Waterloo
A professor emeritus of Geography and Environmental Studies and research associate in the Cold Regions Research Centre at Laurier, Hewitt’s academic career includes tenured professorships at the University of Toronto and Rutgers University. His main teaching, research and consulting fields are in geomorphology and high mountain environments, environmental disasters, and peace research.
Hewitt has contributed to the development of disaster concepts, crisis, disaster vulnerability and risk reduction. His peace research considers impacts of armed violence on civilians, human settlements and habitats. He has spent 17 field seasons in the Karakoram Himalaya in Inner Asia and is a regional specialist in mountain environments.
Laurier will also present the following awards at its convocation ceremonies:
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Sondra Schwartz, Associate Director, University Relations (Ceremonies and Events), Advancement and External Relations
Wilfrid Laurier University
Lori Chalmers Morrison, Director: Integrated Communications, External Relations
Wilfrid Laurier University
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