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140th anniversary watermark of University of Manitoba.

President’s message on U of M’s 140th anniversary

February 1, 2017 — 

The following is a message from University of Manitoba President David Barnard: 

2017 is a significant year in the University of Manitoba’s story.

It marks the 150th anniversary of our nation and the 140th of this institution.

Anniversaries invite celebration, but these milestones provide an opportunity for reflection as well.

Our theme for this anniversary year is identity and it prompts us to explore important questions about who we are, both as a university and as individuals.

To help us do that, we find inspiration in the words of alumnus and former chief commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Senator Murray Sinclair, who asked Canadians to ensure that the next generation, regardless of heritage, is able to answer four key questions:

Where do I come from?
Where am I going?
Why am I here?
Who am I?

Who am I? If we answer this question as the University of Manitoba, we might say: The University of Manitoba is Western Canada’s first university and our home is the heart of the prairies. At a time when universities across Canada and the U.S. were still excluding women and suppressing minority enrollment, our founding gift from Métis scholar Alexander Isbister was made with the remarkable stipulation that the money be awarded solely on merit – to deserving students regardless of sex, race, creed, language or nationality.

We could continue to list our many accomplishments. However, let us be certain that this year is a time of meaningful and honest reflection. Let us take pride in what we have accomplished, but also take responsibility for what we failed to do. Only with this understanding can we begin to make meaningful progress.

On February 28, our anniversary date, I invite you to join the events taking place on our Fort Garry and Bannatyne campuses. At the anniversary ceremony, we will begin the conversation around Senator Sinclair’s four questions as they relate to the University of Manitoba, and I look forward to continuing that conversation with you.

More than that, I look forward to hearing your own reflections. The U of M means so much to all of us as a place of learning, fun, friendship and even romance.  I welcome your participation throughout this year, relive your days here, confront Senator Sinclair’s questions and share your answers.

The right questions have the power to change our thinking – to alter our understanding of ourselves and of one another – and create a better future for the next 140 years.


The University of Manitoba is celebrating our 140th anniversary this year, in conjunction with Canada’s 150. Follow the conversation and hear more about our history, people and celebration events at #UM140 

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