Award-winning journalist, broadcaster, and pioneer of Northern Canada’s first daily television news service, Marie Wilson, who served as one of three commissioners of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws (LLD) honoris causa, at the Wednesday morning session of Western’s 309th Convocation.
Wilson spoke to graduates from the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies and the Faculty of Information and Media Studies, asking them to continue learning in order to collectively work towards reconciliation.
Speaking of her time as a student at Western, Wilson said, “I found my voice here. I established my independence here. I started to realize my interdependence here. And for all that I had learned, was learning and came to cherish, I knew so very little about where I actually was.”
She listed the names of streets in London and the Thames River – all borrowed “imported names from the first waves of immigrants,” Wilson said. Our streets are named after people who may never have set foot in this country, and living here, she didn’t know that a mere 20 miles from London sat a First Nation that predated Canada’s Confederation.
“I’m reminding us of this today, because it’s important for you to know that the university can only teach you so much. In the past, and in your personal inheritance, there have been errors of omission. We weren’t always taught all the things we needed to know about this country, to know about why things are the way they are and especially the original people of it,” she explained.
“The greatest challenge to reconciliation in this county is the obstacle of ignorance, among adults, children, policy makers and new comers. Universities are not the only ones with a better job to do. Each one of us in this room is directly implicated in the ongoing work of reconciliation.”