Claudette Commanda, first Indigenous Chancellor of the University of Ottawa

Claudette Commanda, First Indigenous Chancellor of the University of Ottawa


For the first time, Claudette Commanda, an Indigenous woman, will be named Chancellor of the University of Ottawa. 

On November 9, she will succeed to Calin Rovinescu, whose second term will end in the fall.

The first indigenous person to hold this position, she is also the third woman to hold this position. Since the founding of the University 174 years ago, 15 people have occupied this seat.

“Not only is this nomination an honor, a pride and a joy for me, but it also shows that the Algonquin people have a lot to give, and that they continue to do so. This means a lot, and I feel very honored to have been chosen for this position,” Ms. Commanda said in a statement Thursday.

An Algonquin Anishinaabe from the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation, Ms. Commanda has dedicated the past 35 years to promoting First Nations peoples, their history, their culture and their rights.

She has notably taught at the Institute of Women's Studies, the Faculty of Education and the Faculty of Law at the University of Ottawa.

“I am delighted to announce the appointment of Claudette Commanda, a member of our community whose reputation is second to none. Ms. Commanda will continue to apply her leadership, passion and wisdom throughout the University, for the benefit of Indigenous peoples,” President and Vice-Chancellor Jacques Frémont said Thursday.

During of her studies, Claudette Commanda founded a First Nations student association to improve their representation on campus. She also established an Indigenous Resource Center at the University, now called the Mashkawazìwogamig Indigenous Resource Center.

In 2017, Ms. Commanda became the first-ever Elder-in-Residence at the Faculty of Law from the University of Ottawa. She also acted as special advisor on reconciliation to the Dean of the Faculty of Law. What's more, she is the first First Nations person to be appointed to the University's Board of Governors.

“Whoever received the 2020 Indspire Prize for Culture, Heritage and spirituality wishes to maintain the University's historic support for reconciliation when it assumes its new functions,” the University of Ottawa said in a press release.