1. U of R Home
  2. Newsroom
  3. 2023
  4. University of Regina rescinds honorary degree awarded to Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond

University of Regina rescinds honorary degree awarded to Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond

Release Date: February 13, 2023 2:41 PM

The University of Regina has rescinded the honorary doctor of laws degree it bestowed upon Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond in 2003.

The University undertook a review of Turpel-Lafond’s honorary degree following requests from the Indigenous Women’s Collective, and other concerned individuals, for post-secondary institutions to revoke any honorary degrees they had awarded her.

The rescission was made in accordance with the bylaws and procedures established by the University of Regina Senate. In making this decision the University conducted consultations and considered the evidence that has emerged in the media with respect to Turpel-Lafond’s claims of Indigenous heritage/ancestry. Additionally, a number of other stated credentials and academic achievements have been shown to be untrue.

While the University recognizes that Turpel-Lafond has been a strong advocate for Indigenous rights and child welfare, her accomplishments are outweighed by the harm inflicted upon Indigenous academics, peoples and communities when non-Indigenous people misrepresent their Indigenous ancestry.

The University of Regina acknowledges the statement issued by the Indigenous Women’s Collective that those who falsely represent their Indigenous identity:

“…engage in colonial violence by stealing Indigenous identity from a place of privilege; they hijack pathways designed to combat systemic barriers facing Indigenous people and take limited space and resources.”

The University of Regina is committed to being a strong partner in reconciliation through its teaching, research, learning, student supports and community service efforts. We also recognize that it is our responsibility to strengthen relationships with Indigenous communities and build a more inclusive future.

The motion to rescind the honorary degree was passed by the University Senate on February 10, 2023 and notification of this rescission has been provided to Turpel-Lafond.

- 30 -


Everett Dorma
University Advancement & Communications
Phone: 306-337-8451

About the University of Regina

Set in the heart of the Canadian prairies we are a comprehensive, mid-sized university where the opportunities are as limitless as the horizon. Our campuses are on Treaty 4 and 6 - the territories of the nêhiyawak, Anihšināpēk, Dakota, Lakota, and Nakoda peoples, and the homeland of the Michif/Métis nation. It is our responsibility to strengthen relationships with Indigenous communities to build a more inclusive future for all. Our three federated colleges, 10 faculties, 25 academic departments, and 18 research centres foster innovative research with practical and theoretical applications. We are committed to cultivating the potential of our 16,700 students and supporting their health and well-being. We take learning beyond the classroom through work and volunteer experiences to develop career-ready graduates.

Let’s go far, together.