The University of Winnipeg



Three innovative community leaders to receive honorary doctorates

Sandra DeLaronde, Dr. Patricia Parker, and Thomas Denton receive honorary doctorates

headshots of three honorary doctorate recipients.

2020 Honorary Doctorates, Sandra DeLaronde, Dr. Patricia Parker, and Thomas Denton. Photos provided.

Three exceptional community leaders: Sandra DeLaronde, Dr. Patricia Parker, and Thomas Denton will receive honorary degrees at The University of Winnipeg’s spring convocation ceremonies taking place virtually on Thursday, June 10 and Friday, June 11, 2021.

“The University is proud to recognize their outstanding work with honorary degrees. They are innovative leaders who generously share their time and knowledge to amplify voices and strengthen community,” said Dr. James Currie, Interim President and Vice-Chancellor.

Sandra DeLaronde — champion of social change 

Sandra DeLaronde will be recognized with an Honorary Doctor of Laws at the virtual ceremony on Thursday, June 10 at 9:30 am.

A passionate community builder who works tirelessly to amplify the voices of Indigenous people in Manitoba, DeLaronde has made it her life’s work to end violence and support the families of Missing and Murdered Women, Girls, and 2-Spirited persons (MMIWG2S). Raised in a strong and vibrant Métis family, she is a member of Cross Lake First Nation with roots at the Métis settlement of Duck Bay. 

As co-chair of Manitoba’s MMIWG2S Coalition, she is a powerful voice for Manitoba families in the Commission of a National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women, Girls and 2-Spirited Persons, ensuring the hearts of families and survivors are honoured and protected. 

DeLaronde is generous in sharing her knowledge and culture with others. As head woman for the Oyate Wiwanyang Wacipi (Sundance) and the Heart of the White Buffalo Moondance, she plays a vital role in strengthening Indigenous ceremony, practice, and tradition.

She played an instrumental role in developing and managing the Helen Betty Osborne Memorial Scholarship, which was established in 2000 to honour the life and legacy of its namesake, who was murdered in The Pas in 1976. This scholarship has delivered over $1 million in direct bursary support to hundreds of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit students pursuing post-secondary education in Manitoba.

Whether heading a project or chairing a heated meeting of diverse perspectives, DeLaronde leads with a combination of authority, generosity, and empathy that bridges difficult conversations and influences change. This is evident in her work with national, provincial, and local women’s and Aboriginal women’s organizations in support of community development, cultural reclamation, and reconciliation.

Thomas Denton — human rights advocate

Thomas Denton will be recognized with an Honorary Doctor of Laws at the virtual ceremony on Thursday, June 10 at 2:30 pm.

Throughout a remarkable, varied, and decorated career, Thomas Denton has left an indelible mark on the city, province, and country in myriad ways, none greater than his ceaseless efforts to improve the lives of the oppressed and marginalized who have sought a higher station of life in Canada.

Through his work, he helped reshape Winnipeg’s downtown core into one of the most welcoming and culturally diverse in Canada, created transitional housing for those arriving in the city, and doggedly fought for government support of subsidized housing. But Denton was more than a behind-the-scenes figure to those he helped. He has been personally involved in the settling of more than 40,000 individuals in Canada and has at times been a one-man welcoming committee — on hand to greet many of those whose first destination was Winnipeg. 

Denton has been an integral contributor to the arts community in Winnipeg. In 1980, following the closure of the Winnipeg Tribune, he became the founding publisher of the Winnipeg Sun, a post he retained until its sale in 1983. Additionally, he was among the trustees who successfully endeavoured to save the Winnipeg Symphony. A generous volunteer who served on numerous committees, commissions, and boards — including those of the Prairie Theatre Exchange, Stage West, Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, Walker Theatre, and Manitoba Museum — Denton was also the first chairperson of the City of Winnipeg Arts Council.

Dr. Patricia Parker — innovative educator 

Dr. Patricia Parker will be recognized with an Honorary Doctor of Laws at the virtual ceremony on Friday, June 11 at 9:30 am.

For more than 40 years, Dr. Parker has been a dedicated and innovative educator, academic, scholar, and author. Her ties to The University of Winnipeg date back to 1967, when she graduated from United College. After receiving her MA in English at the University of Toronto, Parker taught for three years in Tanzania as a CUSO volunteer, first for the Ministry of Education and then as a lecturer at the University of East Africa. After completing her PhD in Comparative Literature at Yale, she returned to the University of Toronto where she taught for 11 years.

Known as one of the most original interpreters of Shakespeare, Parker’s Shakespeare from the Margins placed her at the centre of Shakespearean studies after insisting his language must be interpreted from diverse perspectives, including race, religion, sexuality, and gender.

Parker has made it her mission to bring literature to those outside the university by organizing public festivals and working with students to create performance-based programs within the community. Most notably, she’s the editor of the nearly two-million-word Stanford Global Shakespeare Encyclopedia, which will be launched in 2021-22 as an open-access online resource for students, scholars, and the public.

A sought-after speaker, Parker has lectured all over the world, from France, Germany, and Spain, to Australia, New Zealand, and the Czech Republic. She has also been a Gauss Seminar lecturer at Princeton, was a Shakespeare’s Birthday lecturer at Folger Shakespeare Library, and was named a Northrop Frye Professor in Literary Theory at the University of Toronto.

In recognition of exceptional service, achievement, and distinction, The University of Winnipeg presents a variety of awards to deserving members of the University family and wider community twice annually at convocation.  Find out more at 2021 Spring Convocation.

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