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Spring 2019 Convocation for Arts

Tue. Jun. 25, 2019

Students at convocatioon

Photo taken on June 13, 2019 at the University of Winnipeg's Spring Convocation (morning session) by Jason Halstead.

The morning of June 13th dawned brightly for the nearly 600 graduates receiving degrees in Arts from the University of Winnipeg. University President and Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Annette Trimbee, presided over the ceremony which saw Master of Arts and Bachelor of Arts degrees conferred to graduates before a large audience of family and friends.

Dr. Annette Trimbee

University President and Vice-Chancellor, Dr.  Annette Trimbee (right) presided over the 2019 Spring Convocation for degrees in Arts. Dr. Jane Barter (REL) looks on. (Photo by Jason Halstead)

Two honorary degrees were awarded. Elder Ruth Christie, received an Honorary Doctor of Laws for her commitment to Indigenous history. Christie is “a distinguished community-based scholar, knowledge keeper, and storyteller who has influenced generations through her important work in public history and as a mentor” (“Five exceptional community leaders to receive honorary degrees”, University of Winnipeg NewsCentre, May 17, 2019). As an Elder in Residence in University of Winnipeg’s Aboriginal Student Services Centre, Dr. Christie shares a special connection with many of the graduates.

Dr. Ruth Christie

Elder Ruth Christie, received an Honorary Doctor of Laws for her commitment to Indigenous history. (Photo by Jason Halstead)

Environmental steward and Elder, Dave Courchene, received an Honorary Doctor of Laws for his role in “promoting peace, cultural understanding, and environmental sustainability” (“Five exceptional community leaders to receive honorary degrees,” University of Winnipeg NewsCentre, May 17, 2019). As Courchene addressed the graduands, he shared the wisdom of his grandmother, who he said would remind him that “the most important way we can act is in kindness.” He added that “this ultimately ensures our survival, as what you put in your circle, nature returns to you.” Dr. Courchene counselled the graduates to “put nature before yourself” saying that “our future rests in each of us and each of us has the capacity to lead.”

Dr. Neil Besner was named “Professor Emeritus” for his scholarly work, his advocacy and his commitment to the University of Winnipeg. Dr. Besner started his career in the English Department in 1987, and at the time of retirement in 2018, he was Vice-President Academic and Provost.

Chancellor Robert Silver asked the graduands to rise and conferred the degrees, beginning with the Master of Arts degrees. Dr. Trimbee invited family members and friends to express themselves freely, as their graduates file across the stage to receive their diplomas, lending the event a real air of celebration. Once all the graduates had received their diploma, Dr. Trimbee spoke of watching the ceremony from her vantage point on the platform. She described how each graduate would approach looking a little tentative, but upon hearing the encouragement of family and friends, they would relax a little and enjoy their moment. Trimbee addressed the graduates saying that “It's not a long walk across the stage, but we know how hard you worked to get there.” 

Award winner and creative writer, Ferron Guerreiro BA (Honours), was introduced as the Valedictorian. In her address, Guerreiro acknowledged both the difficulties students face, “Changing majors is one way to be thrown off balance, but don’t worry there are others!” and the important lessons learned, “The messiest parts of learning are the most valuable.”

Ferron Guerreiro

Award winner and creative writer, Ferron Guerreiro BA (Honours), addessed the graduates as Valedictorian. (Photo by Jason Halstead)

Finally, in closing, Dr. Trimbee shared a quote from Richard Wagamese, author and journalist.

All that we are is story. From the moment we are born to the time we continue on our spirit journey, we are involved in the creation of the story of our time here. It is what we arrive with. It is all we leave behind. We are not the things we accumulate. We are not the things we deem important. We are story. All of us. What comes to matter then is the creation of the best possible story we can while we’re here; you, me, us, together. When we can do that and we take the time to share those stories with each other, we get bigger inside, we see each other, we recognize our kinship – we change the world, one story at a time…”

Reflecting on Wagamese’s words, Dr. Trimbee addressed the graduates, saying that “We can change the world one story at a time if we listen to one another.” Trimbee went on to say that she is proud of the contribution of University of Winnipeg graduates to society. “Each of us has a unique story. Your story is important to your community. Your friends, family and the University of Winnipeg community will continue to cheer you on. Your best possible story is one we can tell together.”