University of Calgary

University of Calgary

November 16, 2011 12:14 ET

University of Calgary: Special ceremony honours 27th Governor General

CALGARY, ALBERTA--(Marketwire - Nov. 16, 2011) - The University of Calgary will confer an honorary degree upon The Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean on Nov. 17 during a special ceremony.

Mme. Jean will receive the Honorary Doctor of Laws degree in recognition of her remarkable and distinguished career as governor general, and for her ongoing humanitarian efforts. She was the 27th Governor General and Commander in Chief of Canada from 2005 to 2010.

"I feel so honoured to receive an honorary degree from such a world-class institution of higher learning," said the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean. "Ever since I was a child, I have believed in the values of open debate, critical thinking and freedom, which the University of Calgary community cherishes so dearly."

The honorary degree is the university's highest honour, conferred upon individuals who have distinguished themselves from others and who have achieved an exceptional standard of excellence in their chosen field.

After earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in Italian and Hispanic languages and literature at the University of Montréal, Mme. Jean pursued her master's studies in comparative literature and taught at the university's Faculty of Italian Studies. Three scholarships allowed her to pursue her studies at the University of Perugia, the University of Florence, and the Catholic University of Milan. She is fluent in five languages: French, English, Italian, Spanish and Creole.

During her studies, Mme. Jean worked for years with Quebec shelters for battered women, while actively contributing to the establishment of a network of emergency shelters throughout Quebec and Canada.

In 2010, Mme. Jean was appointed UNESCO Special Envoy for Haiti, a title that was awarded in recognition of her dedication to the reconstruction and rebirth of Haiti. Mme. Jean also oversees the Michaëlle Jean Foundation as co-president with her husband, philosopher, essayist and filmmaker Jean-Daniel Lafond—an organization which supports citizen action across Canada through arts and culture as means of social transformation and youth mobilization.

She has received awards from the United Nations, Amnesty International, and Universities Fighting World Hunger International.

During her time as governor general, Mme. Jean led more than 40 missions and State visits abroad, and worked to provide Canadians with a meeting place where their voices could be heard.

"Education is crucial to the health of Canadian democracy," said the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean. "For it empowers citizens to challenge received ideas, and to develop their own perspectives on the world; and in so doing, education enables our society to become more assertive, more innovative, and more committed to our shared goal of a fully compassionate, just and inclusive Canada."

Mme. Jean will be conferred at a special ceremony tomorrow to be held at the Eckhardt-Gramatte concert hall, Rozsa Centre at the University of Calgary at 11:30am on November 17, 2011.

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Contact Information

  • University of Calgary
    Brooke Hunter
    Media Relations Advisor, University Relations
    403.220.4756 or Cell: 403-852-5047