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President Barnard’s address to graduands at the 138th Annual Spring Convocation

June 6, 2017 — 

 The following is the address University of Manitoba President and Vice-Chancellor David T. Barnard delivered to graduands at the 138th Annual Spring Convocation:

I am pleased to welcome you to the 138th annual Spring Convocation to celebrate the achievements of the graduands seated before us. Congratulations.

This coming Canada Day, just a few weeks away, our nation celebrates its 150th birthday.

And earlier this year, on February 28th, the University of Manitoba marked its 140th anniversary. I am sure you found and will find your own ways to recognize these milestones.

Here at the University of Manitoba we have used the occasion to reflect on the theme of identity.

Who are we?

One core value that has come out of this discussion has been the importance of leadership and the many ways in which our students, researchers, and alumni are leaders in our community and beyond.

Leaders. Leadership. The University of Manitoba.

One area where we are collectively demonstrating leadership is the reconciliation journey.

As the first university in Canada to issue a formal apology to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, we have committed to a renewed relationship and dialogue with First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples based on the principles of mutual trust, respect, and reciprocity.

The first graduate of this institution was a Métis scholar named Reginald William Gunn, who took honours in Natural Sciences and was awarded the Governor General’s Silver Medal. Since then, more Indigenous lawyers, social workers and engineers have graduated from the University of Manitoba than from any other post-secondary institution in Canada.

Many are graduating this week.

Leaders who are inspiring those around them and changing the course of their lives through education.

We can also all be proud of the central role the University of Manitoba plays in the economic, cultural and public life of this province.

As Manitoba’s only research-intensive university, we drive the innovation that keeps this province competitive, and educate its industry, government and community leaders.

Think for a moment where we would be as a province, as a world, without the leadership of the University of Manitoba and its amazing people.

Where would we be if research pioneers like Baldur Stefansson had not seen the potential benefits of the rapeseed plant and developed canola, now a billion-dollar industry from which so many of us in this province benefit?

If our engineers had not developed smart technologies to improve infrastructure?

If our environmental scientists had not tracked the impact of climate change?

If our sociologists had not analyzed the impact of poverty on crime rates?

And where would we be without our visual artists to help us see ourselves and our world in new ways?

Our musicians to uplift us?

I think we can all acknowledge that this institution we love so dearly, that is such a special part of our lives, has had an enduring impact on our community and on communities around the world.

And with our $500 million Front and Centre campaign we will ensure sustained and enriched growth for Manitobans for an additional century and a half, and more.

Just a few weeks ago, along with our partners Great-West Life, Investor’s Group and Power Corporation of Canada, we announced a new Institute for Leadership Development that will ensure leadership permeates learning in all disciplines across our university.

Our commitment continues.

You, the students who graduate today will be tomorrow’s leaders.

We celebrate what you have already accomplished – the successful completion of your studies – but more than that, we look forward to how you will use your experience and knowledge to lead us.

During your time here – through your questions, your expectations, interests and enthusiasms – each of you have certainly changed yourself and this institution, for the better.
Now go on and change the world.


Each session of Convocation will be streamed online. Follow #umanitoba2017 on Twitter and Instagram and visit our #umanitoba2017 Storify page to see more.

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