Spring convocation: Agent of change committed to a brighter future for Aboriginal Peoples receives honorary degree

(Edmonton) Louise Hayes received an honorary doctor of laws degree from the University of Alberta June 9 for her tireless work as an influential agent of change committed to a brighter future for Canada’s Aboriginal peoples.

She contributed to the creation of the first housing support programs in rural and remote communities, and assisted in the development of the Native Council of Canada. Through her time working with Aboriginal communities, Hayes says she has the most pressing societal issue facing these communities is poverty.

“At its simplest form, education is the path out of poverty,” said Hayes, at a convocation ceremony celebrating students graduating from the faculties of education and physical education and recreation. “You may be asking yourself where to begin, how you as an individual, can possibly make a difference?

“Start by learning more. Help dispel the myths. Share your new-found knowledge with your students and friends.”

Hayes, who has served as a member of the U of A senate and board of governors, says she sees a day when a mandatory Aboriginal Awareness course is included in the curriculum for all education students, but until then, she asks that the teachers of the future take it upon themselves to learn more.

“For the last few years, you have been a part of the future of education,” she said. “Today, you become a part of the present. You’re a community leader now. Take those degrees and get out there and make a difference. Live your lives well, give what you can.”

To read a full transcript of Hayes’ convocation address, click here.

To watch the entire June 9 convocation ceremony, click here.