Be leaders & changemakers, urges Aboriginal champion

Queen’s is reserving its honorary degrees in 2016 for alumni in celebration of the university’s 175th anniversary. Throughout fall convocation, the Gazette will profile the four honorary degree recipients and explore how Queen’s has impacted their life and career. 

During the mid-1980s, Carol Ann Budd (Sc’89) arrived on Queen’s campus from northeastern Ontario wearing a pair of moccasins she’d made herself. On Tuesday, she came to campus wearing those same moccasins (re-soled many times over the years), and then switched into a special white pair made by her grandmother to accept an honorary doctorate of science at fall convocation.

Carol Ann Budd said receiving the Queen's honorary degree is a proud moment for all Aboriginal women. (Photo by Bernard Clark)

“I really feel like the story of these (white) moccasins represents the full circle – from my grandmother, who went to a residential school, who passed the moccasins down to my mother, and now to me,” said Dr. Budd in an interview prior to receiving her degree. “Their experiences, and all the healing that’s taken place, and the moving forward – it’s all contributed to where I am today.”

Dr. Budd – a revered mentor and role model to generations of Aboriginal youth, a strong supporter of Aboriginal programs and initiatives at Queen’s, and the science, technology, engineering, and math fields in particular, and a champion for Aboriginal women across Canada –  said this honorary degree is a proud moment for all Aboriginal women.

“I am receiving this on behalf of all of us. I know so many deserving women. And it’s a positive story,” she said, adding that so much of what is written and heard about Indigenous woman is in a negative light, about those who are missing and murdered.

A member of the Sagamok Anishawbek First Nation, Dr. Budd at first resisted attending university but was persuaded by her brother and Queen’s graduate Raymond Hatfield (Law’84) to continue her education. She eventually decided to study engineering chemistry at Queen’s, and after a winding path to receive her degree – moving for a period back home to Biscotasing, where she married and began a family – she went on to a successful career in engineering as a research scientist at DuPont and INVISTA, and later in the automotive industry. She later switched gears, and now works as a financial consultant with Investors Group in Kingston.

Dr. Budd wore these moccasins, which she made herself, when she first arrived at Queen's in the '80s. She wore them Tuesday en route to the ceremony at Grant Hall and changed into special white moccasins made by her grandmother to receive her honorary doctorate. (Photo by Bernard Clark)

In her convocation address on Tuesday, Dr. Budd encouraged the graduates and audience members to learn one word of her native language as a way to share and spread her cultural heritage.

“Meegwetch. Thank you very much. It is a great honour to share and celebrate this moment with all of you,” she said. “The seeds that brought you here today were planted long ago. Let’s take a moment to acknowledge that, and to see that this is not only an ending, but also a beginning, a time to plant new seeds, new goals."

Dr. Budd reminded students of the importance of education, and that a degree gives you both power and responsibility – a responsibility to be of service and an agent of change in the world.

“You now have the tools and the influence to do what’s right, and to be leaders and changemakers,” said Dr. Budd. “If you at any point lose your way, remember the Anishinaabe seven grandfather teachings of love, wisdom, respect, bravery, honesty, humility, and truth. They are guideposts to steer you back on track.”

Before Dr. Budd addressed convocation, the Four Directions Women Singers sang an Honour Song to acknowledge her great achievement. Following her speech, Dr. Budd – playing a drum made by her mother – joined friends to offer the students an Anishinaabe travelling song, to send them on their journey and to go out and do their good work in the world.

“This is the best day – the very best,” she said before the ceremony. Dr. Budd’s four children and many other friends and family, one from as far away as Winnipeg, joined her Tuesday in Grant Hall.

The Gazette featured a profile of Carol Ann Budd in August 2016. Read the full text here.

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