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Community Teaching & Learning Alumni

Honorary Degree Bestowed Upon Joseph Naytowhow

12 June 2024
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The University of Regina has presented an honorary degree to the multi-talented singer/songwriter, actor, storyteller, educator, and mentor Joseph Naytowhow.

Any success I’ve achieved in my life can be attributed to the combination of Indigenous and non-Indigenous ways of knowing and experiencing life — Joseph Naytowhow, honorary degree recipient.

“Having been torn from family and community at age six, it was much later into my life - at 20 years of age - that I was reintroduced to Indigenous worldviews,” says Naytowhow. “Receiving this degree means all that I've experienced on my journey of healing and learning from elders is recognized and acknowledged.

“This degree validates the knowledge and skills I’d been taught by traditional Indigenous teachers/masters. It demonstrates that our ways of knowing as Indigenous people are respected and accepted as part of the world I grew up in, here in Saskatchewan and Canada.”

smiling man
U of R Spring 2024 Convocation honorary degree recipient James Naytowhow. Photo Courtesy James Page.

Naytowhow is committed to the arts and demonstrates his passion through film, television, theatre, and collaborations with other artists. He has made mentoring and teaching his life’s work. His extensive career includes voice, music, and storytelling for on-air plays with several television networks.

Naytowhow uses his many talents to explore themes of traditional nehiyaw (Cree) culture and contemporary society.  He is a much-sought- after presenter and guest speaker who explores various subjects, including the vital role Mother Earth has in sustaining life and our responsibility to protect her, traditional Indigenous culture and ways of being, and other topics with a focus on bringing people together. He is renowned for his unique style of Cree/English storytelling combined with contemporary music and traditional First Nations drum, flute, and rattle songs.

“For his significant contribution to the arts, and for his commitment to bridging the gap between the contemporary world and Indigenous culture, the University is thrilled to present this honorary degree to Joseph Naytowhow,” said U of R President and Vice-Chancellor Jeff Keshen.

Having earned a Bachelor of Education degree, studied with a Buddhist master for 15 years, worked as an interdisciplinary artist, educator, and mentor, Naytowhow is dedicated to lifelong learning and sharing cultural knowledge. He also has a strong connection to the University of Regina having served with the U of R Faculty of Education as an emerging Elder-in-Residence in 2015/16 and 2018/19.

He is the recipient of the Canadian Aboriginal Music Award’s Keeper of the Tradition Award and the Commemorative Medal for the Saskatchewan Centennial, received a Gemini Award for his role in the Wapos Bay TV series. He was awarded the Saskatchewan Arts Board’s Arts and Learning Award for his far-reaching work with many organizations, students, and artists and has performed for the Prince of Wales, the Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan, and many other notables.

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Joseph Naytowhow addresses convocation. Photo Courtesy U of R Communications and Marketing.

“Any success I’ve achieved in my life can be attributed to the combination of Indigenous and non-Indigenous ways of knowing and experiencing life,” says Naytowhow. “The spiritual world I was led to time and again throughout my life - including my senior years - has helped support me tremendously. I wouldn’t have been able to separate the evolution of my spiritual practice alongside my artistic practice. They are like left- and right-brain activity, working together for strength and potency.”

Naytowhow advises graduating students, “Life on the path of knowing has many twists and turns; take all of them and see what happens. Trust those people who genuinely are out there for you. They will help you to get to your goal.”

Banner Photo: : L-R, Cadmus Delorme, U of R Board of Governors Chair, Pam Klein, U of R Chancellor, Joseph Naytowhow, honorary degree recipient, Jeff Keshen, U of R President and Vice-Chancellor. Photo Courtesy U of R Communications and Marketing.

About the University of Regina

2024 marks our 50th anniversary as an independent University (although our roots as Regina College date back more than a century!). As we celebrate our past, we work towards a future that is as limitless as the prairie horizon. We support the health and well-being of our 16,700 students and provide them with hands-on learning opportunities to develop career-ready graduates – more than 88,000 alumni enrich communities in Saskatchewan and around the globe. Our research enterprise has grown to include 21 research centres and 12 Canada Research Chairs. Our campuses are on Treaties 4 and 6 - the territories of the nêhiyawak, Anihšināpēk, Dakota, Lakota, and Nakoda peoples, and the homeland of the Michif/Métis nation. We seek to grow our relationships with Indigenous communities to build a more inclusive future.

Let’s go far, together.

Learn More

Learn more about the U of R’s honorary degrees.

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On July 1, 2024, we will begin a year long celebration of our 50th Anniversary and we invite everyone to join us.