Mr. Chancellor, it is my honour to present to you Mr. Kenneth Deer, Secretary of the Mohawk Nation at Kahnawake.
We will begin our introduction with a few words in Mohawk from Mr. Deer’s son.
(Speech by Mr. Deer’s son, Bryan Deer)
Mr. Deer has made his mark in a number of fields, including education, news media and international politics. He is known internationally as a prominent and unrelenting voice in defence of the human, cultural and economic rights of Indigenous peoples around the world.
Mr. Deer has fostered awareness of Indigenous peoples’ rights through many channels. He began his career in education in 1972, spending 16 years in this field. In the 1970s, he helped establish the Kahnawake Survival School, which continues to provide education steeped in Indigenous culture and heritage.
He is a founding member of the First Nations Education Council and of the National Indian Education Council.
Mr. Deer’s impact has also been felt in the world of journalism. In 1992, he founded the Kahnawake-based award-winning newspaper The Eastern Door, known for its focus on Indigenous issues and as a trusted source of unbiased reporting. He ran the publication as publisher and editor-in-chief until 2008.
Mr. Deer has been actively involved with various associations such as the Quebec Community Newspaper Association, the Canadian Community Newspapers of Commerce and the Native American Journalists Association. His work in the field of journalism has garnered him numerous accolades, including the National Aboriginal Achievement Award for Media and Communication.
En plus de son dévouement soutenu au service de sa communauté, Monsieur Deer est aussi l’un des fers de lance du mouvement international de défense des droits des peuples autochtones. Depuis 1987, il prend régulièrement une part active aux travaux du Groupe de travail des Nations Unies sur les populations autochtones. Il a joué notamment un rôle de premier plan dans la rédaction de la Déclaration des Nations Unies sur les droits des peuples autochtones, un document essentiel adopté par l’ONU en 2007, qui reconnaît entre autre le droit des peuples autochtones à l’autodétermination. Monsieur Deer a également été président/rapporteur du groupe de travail des Nations Unies sur les médias autochtones en 2000 et fut l’une des premières personnes d’origine autochtone à occuper ce poste.
For our students graduating today, Mr. Deer provides a powerful example of what can be achieved through hard work, passion and commitment to social justice.
Mr. Chancellor, on behalf of the Senate and the Board of Governors, it is my privilege and honour to present to you Mr. Kenneth Deer, so that you may confer upon him the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.