U of S salutes Ahenakew for lifetime achievement

SASKATOON - Ray Ahenakew has spent a lifetime breaking down barriers while working in both the public and private sector to build business opportunities and to improve the lives of First Nations people.

On June 1, he will be recognized for his efforts when he is awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws from the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) at the Spring Convocation ceremonies at Saskatoon's TCU Place.

As a former president of the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies (SIIT), being honoured by the U of S is particularly meaningful for Ahenakew, given the university's growing relationship with other local post-secondary schools. The new U of S Aboriginal Career Start Program will provide paid on-the-job training and experience for students from partner institutions like SIIT and the Gabrielle Dumont Institute.

"Look at how close we are now, with the university and SIIT and Gabrielle Dumont, we are all working together, which is good," said Ahenakew, noting that the U of S has been a leader in working to close the education gap for Aboriginal people, from hosting the recent national forum on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to opening the new Gordon Oakes Red Bear Student Centre.

"I think (the U of S) is a leader in the country, they have been from day one when the TRC report came out … And from my point of view, I think education is very important for First Nations. Education breaks down barriers amongst people."

Ahenakew, whose granddaughter is a student at the U of S and plays for the Huskies women's soccer team, led the Meadow Lake Tribal Council team that pioneered self-government negotiations with the federal government. The 73-year-old Ahenakew, a member of Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation, was a recipient of the prestigious Saskatchewan Order of Merit and was named one of the province's most influential people by Sask Business magazine.

"Mr. Ahenakew has long been a champion of First Nations advancement in Saskatchewan and has worked tirelessly to expand economic opportunities and improve lifestyles in First Nations communities," said U of S President Peter Stoicheff. "A former president of Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies, Mr. Ahenakew is a prominent proponent of the power of education for First Nations peoples, an excellent example for us to follow to help fulfill our own commitment to Aboriginal achievement at the University of Saskatchewan."

Ahenakew will be one of six honourary degree recipients at this year's U of S Spring Convocation.

For the full schedule, see: https://students.usask.ca/events/spring-convocation.php
University of Saskatchewan:
Established in 1907, the University of Saskatchewan has a long history of excellence. We are a member of the U15 group of Canada's top research-intensive universities, offering unique facilities such as the Canadian Light Source, VIDO-InterVac and the Global Institute for Water Security. The university is committed to First Nations, Métis and Inuit student success and to welcoming diverse perspectives and ways of knowing, both from across Saskatchewan and around the world. Our graduates are known for their work ethic, resourceful nature and determination, and will continue to build on our history of success to address the world's challenges.

For more information, contact:
Jennifer Thoma
Media Relations Specialist
University of Saskatchewan
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