White-Eye: Build bridges. Extend a hand.

For her community leadership, passion for social justice and dedication to education, Leslee White-Eye, Chief of the Chippewas of the Thames First Nation – the first woman to take its helm in more than 60 years, was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws, honoris causa (LLD), at the Tuesday afternoon session of Western’s 309th Convocation.

White-Eye spoke to graduates from the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies and King’s University College, passing along wishes to “emerging leaders,” to collectively work to foster an inclusive Canada that is hospitable to different ideas, cultures and histories.

In light of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, there is a lot of work ahead for Canada, she said, but the mission ahead of today’s graduates is a global mission.

“Whatever your vision is, that vision will fulfil itself every single time you talk to someone. Someone is going to help you. The reason I can say that is because I’ve lived it. The work ahead of you and the vision you have can only transpire because you’ve talked out loud about it. Because you told people about it. And because you’ve believed in it with so much hunger that people want to help you. Take the next step and enact your vision. Build bridges. Extend a hand. Invite a conversation,” White-Eye said.

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