Celebrating Chancellor Murray Sinclair's Installation | Arts and Science ONLINE

Celebrating Chancellor Murray Sinclair's Installation

Special ceremony marks Chancellor Sinclair’s 2021 appointment and celebrates Indigenous culture.

The Honourable Murray Sinclair was named Queen’s University’s 15th Chancellor in April 2021 but, due to the pandemic and illness, an official installation event was not held. That changed on Nov. 15, 2022, when Chancellor Sinclair was formally installed in a special hybrid ceremony broadcasted online from campus’ Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts.

“Queen’s is very fortunate to have His Honour, Mr. Murray Sinclair, serve as our university’s highest officer and ceremonial head,” says Patrick Deane, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, who presided over the ceremony from The Isabel’s main stage. “His contributions to the betterment of our social fabric in Canada are formidable, and since joining us as Chancellor in 2021 he’s been working closely with the university to advance positive change here as well. It is a pleasure to celebrate his installation and a privilege to welcome him as our 15th Chancellor.”

During the installation ceremony, Chancellor Sinclair — who is the first Indigenous person to serve in this role at Queen’s — donned his official, traditional robe, which he wore together with an Ojibwe Woodland-style beaded stole and a fur turban. He addressed attendees virtually from the Manitoba Indigenous Cultural Education Centre in Winnipeg.

“Being installed as the university’s 15th Chancellor means a great deal to me and my commitment to Queen’s is one that I feel wholeheartedly,” remarked Chancellor Sinclair, after taking his oath of office. “For too long, we have educated young people to believe in a history that is not accurate; one that is incomplete. In this role, I look forward to helping ensure that the experience our students receive is fully inclusive of an understanding of Canada’s past. Things are changing, and universities in Canada must now lead the way toward positive change.”

Chancellor Sinclair is a nationally recognized figure, having dedicated 40 years of his life to Canada’s justice system, during which he was appointed as a justice to the Court of Queen’s Bench of Manitoba. He was the first Indigenous judge appointed in that province and Canada’s second. He most recently served as a member of the Senate of Canada from 2016 until 2020, when he retired from the role.

He may be best known as the Chief Commissioner of Canada’s Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), which resulted in a widely influential 2015 report that is still contributing to the advancement of reconciliation nationwide.

In addition to the installation’s traditional elements, guests — including over 100 attendees viewing online — enjoyed music by the Four Directions Indigenous Student Centre drum group, which performed three songs throughout the event.

There was also a wampum ceremony, in which Kanonhsyonne (Janice Hill), Associate Vice-Principal (Indigenous Initiatives), and Te ho wis kwûnt (Allen Doxtator), Elder in Residence, committed the university to working with the Chancellor to further reconciliation, decolonization, and Indigenization at Queen’s.

On behalf of her office, and of Queen’s Indigenous campus community members, AVP Hill presented the new Chancellor with a handcrafted fedora, adorned with colourful beadwork representing a connection to the land and the autumn season.

New honourary degrees were also awarded to Daniel Christmas and Tshaukuesh Elizabeth Penashue — both distinguished Indigenous activists and leaders who joined the ceremony via livestream from Ottawa and Newfoundland respectively. Kandice Baptiste, Director of Four Directions, presented vibrant woolen blankets to the two recipients on behalf of the student centre, the university’s Indigenous Council, and the Division of Student Affairs in recognition of their honourary doctorates.

Watch a recording of the ceremony on the University Secretariat’s website.

Note: This article originally appeared in the Queen's Gazette.