Queen’s University has selected longtime Indigenous rights advocate and former senator Murray Sinclair as its 15th chancellor.
The Kingston, Ont., university selected Sinclair — who was the first Indigenous judge on the bench in Manitoba and the second Indigenous judge appointed in Canada — after what it says was an extensive consultation with students, staff and alumni. Some attributes the committee looked for was diversity, inclusion and Indigeneity, the university announced in a news release Wednesday.
Sinclair will begin his new role offering guidance to the school on July 1.
“Joining Queen’s University at this time is an important opportunity to recognize the change in this institution and the work we do together for future generations of students,” said Sinclair in the news release. “I look forward to contributing to the new vision at Queen’s.”
From 2009 to 2015, Sinclair led the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which issued 94 calls to action to reconcile Canada’s history of cultural genocide against Indigenous people. He was appointed to the Red Chamber in 2016 and served as a senator until this past January.
As he left his post, Sinclair urged Canadians to reckon with systemic racism “bred into our very institutions.”
“Indigenous people and people of colour standing up and saying ‘Enough is enough’ is one thing … [but] the people in charge of the institutions that we’re trying to address really do need to take stock of what they’re doing, and change the way they do business,” he told CBC News in January.
“I am thrilled,” said principal Patrick Deane, in the news release. “I cannot think of anyone better suited to advise us on that course than His Honour, one of Canada’s most significant advocates for Indigenous peoples. We feel privileged to work with him.”
Sinclair will sit on a number of committees and his duties will include presiding over convocations, conferring degrees, hosting dignitaries and chairing the committee that selects the university’s principal. He is taking over former chancellor Jim Leech, who’s been in that role since 2014, says the school.