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Cindy Blackstock

Cindy Blackstock


Honorary Doctor of Laws

Cindy Blackstock is a tireless advocate for some of society’s most vulnerable people: Indigenous children, youth, and families. She inspires all people to engage on issues that truly matter, and to use our skills and abilities to benefit society as a whole.

Blackstock is a Gitxsan activist who holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology (University of British Columbia); master’s degrees in Management (McGill University) and Jurisprudence in Children's Law and Policy (Loyola University Chicago); and a PhD in Social Work (University of Toronto).

Blackstock’s most widely acclaimed work was a case heard before the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, which took nine years to resolve. In 2016, the Tribunal found that Canada was discriminatory in its funding of child welfare services and did not provide equivalent services for First Nations children as it did elsewhere. This was a watershed moment in Canadian history, and it positioned Blackstock as a national leader in the fight for equality and justice. Her commitment and detailed preparation on behalf of the Assembly of First Nations and First Nations Child and Family Caring Society contributed to the case's success. It is now the subject of We Can't Make the Same Mistake Twice, a documentary film by Alanis Obomsawin, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2016.

Blackstock has published numerous scholarly works, and regularly engages community through her public speaking, committee, and advisory roles. She was a keynote speaker last year at the national Pathways to Reconciliation conference on The University of Winnipeg campus, where she transfixed the audience with her deep knowledge and understanding of what reconciliation in action means. She continues to make time for community, including working with Indigenous leaders and non-Indigenous allies — particularly children — to promote reconciliation through initiatives such as Have a Heart Day, Jordan’s Principle, Bear Witness Day, and Honouring Memories, Planting Dreams. 

For her deep dedication to advancing the rights and welfare of children, and for her ongoing commitment to creating a culture of reconciliation in Canada, The University of Winnipeg bestows upon Cindy Blackstock an Honorary Doctor of Laws.