Claudette Commanda, first Indigenous Chancellor of the University of Ottawa

For the first time, Claudette Commanda, an Aboriginal woman, will be named Chancellor of the University of Ottawa.

On November 9, she will succeed Calin Rovinescu, whose second term will end in the fall.

The first Aboriginal to hold this position, she is also the third woman to hold these positions. Since the founding of the University 174 years ago, 15 people have occupied this seat.

“Not only is this nomination an honour, a pride and a joy for me, but it also shows that the Algonquin people have a lot to give, and that they continue to do so. This means a lot, and I feel very honored to have been chosen for this position,” Ms. Commanda said in a statement Thursday.

An Algonquin Anishinaabe from the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation, Ms. Commanda has dedicated the past 35 years to promoting First Nations peoples, their history, their culture and their rights.

She has notably taught at the Institute of Women’s Studies, the Faculty of Education and the Faculty of Law at the University of Ottawa.

“I am delighted to announce the appointment of Claudette Commanda, a member of our community whose reputation is second to none. Ms. Commanda will continue to use her leadership, her passion and her wisdom throughout the University, for the benefit of Indigenous peoples,” said Rector and Vice-Chancellor Jacques Frémont on Thursday.

During her studies, Claudette Commanda founded a First Nations student association to improve their representation on campus. She also established an Indigenous Resource Center at the University, now called the Mashkawazìwogamig Indigenous Resource Center.

In 2017, Ms. Commanda became the first-ever Elder-in-Residence at the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law. She also acted as special advisor on reconciliation to the Dean of the Faculty of Law. Moreover, she is the first First Nations person to be appointed to the University’s Board of Governors.

“The recipient of the 2020 Indspire Prize for Culture, Heritage and Spirituality wishes to maintain the University’s historic support for reconciliation when she assumes her new role,” said the University of Ottawa in a press release.

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