Queen’s University Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane announced today, Wednesday, Apr. 28, 2021, that the university has selected The Honourable Murray Sinclair to serve as its 15th Chancellor.
As an experienced national leader, Sinclair will be well-positioned to offer insight and guidance to the university, according to a statement from Queen’s, released the same day as the announcement. He will begin in his new role on July 1, 2021.
“I am thrilled to announce that The Honourable Murray Sinclair will be joining Queen’s as the 15th Chancellor of our university,” Principal Deane said. “As Queen’s pursues a strategic vision that focuses on social impact, 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.”
The university selected Sinclair following extensive consultation with the Queen’s community that included a nomination process open to all students, faculty, staff, and alumni. The advisory committee, chaired by Principal Deane, developed a list of 10 attributes the next chancellor should possess, including demonstrated commitments to sustainability, equity, diversity, inclusion, and Indigeneity, according to the statement. After the advisory committee recommended Sinclair, the nomination was confirmed by Queen’s University Council.
Chancellor-Designate Sinclair has had an extensive legal career and over several decades has established himself as a leading advocate for Indigenous peoples in Canada, the university said. He served as the first Indigenous judge in Manitoba and the second in all of Canada. On the national level, he led the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which documented the history of residential schools in Canada and issued 94 calls to action to promote reconciliation between Canada and Indigenous peoples. In recognition of his decades of service, Sinclair was appointed to the Senate of Canada in 2016 and served as a Senator until January 2021. He currently serves as General Counsel with Cochrane Saxberg LLP, Manitoba’s largest Indigenous law firm.
“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,” Sinclair said. “I look forward to contributing to the new vision at Queens University.”
Chancellor-Designate Sinclair is Anishinaabe and a member of the Peguis First Nation. He is a Fourth Degree Chief of the Midewiwin Society, a traditional healing and spiritual society of the Anishinaabe Nation responsible for protecting the teachings, ceremonies, laws, and history of the Anishinaabe. His Spirit Name is Mizhana Gheezhik (The One Who Speaks of Pictures in the Sky).
Chancellor-Designate Sinclair earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Winnipeg and graduated from the Faculty of Law at the University of Manitoba in 1979. He has received honorary doctorates from 14 universities, including Queen’s in 2019.
The chancellor is the ceremonial head and highest officer of the university. They sit on both the University Council and Board of Trustees, as well as a number of important committees for each, the university said. Other duties include presiding over convocation ceremonies, conferring degrees, and sitting on the Senate committee that bestows honorary degrees each year. The Chancellor also plays a central role in connecting with Queen’s alumni, hosting dignitaries, and chairing the search committee that selects the university’s Principal.
The Honourable Mr. Sinclair will succeed James Leech, who has held the role of Queen’s Chancellor since 2014.