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John Ralston Saul

Honorary Doctorate


John Ralston Saul

BA (Hons), PhD

Honorary Doctor of Laws

Considered one of Canada’s leading thinkers and declared a “prophet” by TIME magazine, renowned philosopher John Ralston Saul is an award-winning essayist, novelist, and champion of freedom of expression. His philosophies on interdisciplinary study, social justice, and the right to an education echo in UWinnipeg’s ethos, hallways, and classrooms — as well as on campuses across the country.

Noted for his clear insight into the complexity of our consciousness as a nation, Dr. Saul is committed to public education as a social equalizer, a nation builder and a basic requirement for a democratic society.  His impact also transcends borders, influencing political and economic thought in other countries. 

Dr. Saul is a prolific writer in fiction (six books) and non-fiction (11 books), and as an essayist, with works translated into 25 languages in 36 countries. His writing has received many national and international awards, including: the Pablo Neruda Medal, The Gutenberg Galaxy Award for Literature, Canada's Governor General's Literary Award for Non-Fiction, and South Korea’s Manhae Grand Prize for Literature. He has changed the way we think of the modern world with such books as Voltaire’s Bastards: The Dictatorship of Reason in the West and the Unconscious Civilization. He has changed the way we think of Canada with such seminal works as Reflections of a Siamese Twin and A Fair Country: Telling Truths about Canada, which reestablished the central role of Aboriginal peoples in the creation and continuing existence of Canada.

Dr. Saul is the International President of PEN International, the world’s leading freedom of expression organization and the only international organization of writers. He is the first Canadian to be selected to the presidency in PEN’s 93 years of existence.

Dr. Saul is the co-chair of the Institute for Canadian Citizenship (ICC), a national charity promoting the inclusion of new citizens. He founded the ICC’s LaFontaine-Baldwin Symposium, a national lecture event engaging Canadians in a conversation about citizenship and the public good. He is also founder and honorary chair of Le français pour l'avenir/French for the Future, an organization advancing the use of French among secondary students, as well as the patron of PLAN, a cutting-edge organization serving people with disabilities.

Dr. Saul is a Companion of the Order of Canada and a Chevalier in the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres of France. He holds 17 honorary degrees, including those from McGill University and l'Université du Québec (UQAM), both in Montréal, and Herzen State Pedagogical University in St. Petersburg, Russia.

The University of Winnipeg is honoured to present John Ralston Saul with an Honorary Doctor of Laws for his ongoing contributions to the Canadian consciousness — as a philosopher, writer, and engaged global citizen who champions education and freedom of expression for all.

Dr. Saul’s address to graduates [PDF]