The University of Lethbridge is pleased to announce the fourth of its 2016 honorary degree recipients – honorary Cree chief, lawyer, residential school survivor, renowned sportsman and former politician J. Wilton Littlechild.
“Wilton Littlechild is the epitome of a survivor, having used his own personal tragedy and that of his people as motivation to initiate change,” says U of L Chancellor Janice Varzari. “His commitment to bettering his community and advancing the rights of indigenous people worldwide is extraordinary. We are thrilled that he has accepted our offer of an honorary degree.”
The University will present Littlechild with the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, at the 2016 Spring Convocation IV Ceremony on June 3, 2016 at 2:30 p.m. in the 1st Choice Savings Centre for Sport and Wellness.
J. Wilton Littlechild
Regarded as one of Canada’s most outstanding citizens, J. Wilton Littlechild used academic study and sport as a means to focus his energies and survive 14 years in the residential school system.
An outstanding athlete, Littlechild won more than 70 provincial, regional, national and international championships, which helped him open doors to post-secondary education. He earned his bachelor and master’s degree in physical education from the University of Alberta and, in 1976, became the initial Alberta Treaty First Nations person to receive a law degree from the U of A. This accomplishment was of great significance to the Cree Nation, who bestowed upon him the title of honorary chief.
Littlechild eventually established his own law firm on the Ermineskin Reserve and made his way into the political world, where he was elected to Parliament and served as MP for the riding of Wetaskiwin-Rimby from 1988-1993. During that time, he was a parliamentary delegate to the United Nations, organizing a coalition of indigenous nations that sought and gained consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC).
Elected to several sports halls of fame, Littlechild was named to the Order of Canada in 1999 and received the Alberta Order of Excellence in 2014. All the while he has continued to serve his people and his country with perseverance, humility and grace.