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Assiniboine to present Phil Fontaine with honorary diploma

Assiniboine to present Phil Fontaine with honorary diploma

Written On: 10 May, 2017
Category: Graduation

Assiniboine will be presenting former Grand Chief Phil Fontaine with an honorary diploma in Community Development at the college’s upcoming graduation ceremony in Brandon on June 1, 2017.

“We are tremendously excited to welcome Mr. Fontaine to Brandon to accept this honour,” said Mark Frison, president of Assiniboine. “His wide body of work advocating for the rights of so many is admirable, and his commitment to the social well-being of Canadians is something our graduates can aspire to emulate.” 

"I am very pleased to receive an honorary diploma in Community Development from Assiniboine Community College," said Phil Fontaine, President of Ishkonigan Inc., a successful consulting company he founded in 2009, specializing in Aboriginal relations.

"Assiniboine has been providing quality education for over fifty-five years and is a leader in developing and delivering unique programs focused on meeting the needs of its students and surrounding communities, including indigenous communities.”

Born on Sagkeeng First Nation, Mr. Fontaine spent his youth attending a residential school operated by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate at Sagkeeng (formerly known as Fort Alexander). He also attended Assiniboia Residential School in Winnipeg, graduating from Powerview Collegiate in 1961. It was during that time the Mr. Fontaine would develop the desire for change that would ultimately encapsulate much of his life’s work.

First elected in 1973, Mr. Fontaine served the first of two terms as Chief of Sagkeeng First Nations. In 1981, he completed his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of Manitoba and later served as Vice-Chief for the Assembly of First Nations. His leadership during that tumultuous time was instrumental in Manitoba signalling the defeat of the Meech Lake Accord. 

Driven to serve, Mr. Fontaine was elected Grand Chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, completing three consecutive terms. In 1997, he was chosen National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations before being appointed as the Chief Commissioner of the Indian Acts Claims Commission. Fontaine was the driving force behind the successful negotiation of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement. His work included securing financial compensation for survivors through the establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. 

Mr. Fontaine now serves as a special advisor to the Royal Bank of Canada, as well as offering consulting services to various groups across the country. He is a member of the Order of Manitoba, has received a National Aboriginal Achievement Award, Equitas Human Rights Education Award, the Distinguished Leadership Award, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, and was, most recently appointed to the Order of Canada. 

“I appreciate this honour and commend the leadership of Assiniboine for the good work they have done, which I am certain will continue well into the future," said Fontaine.

Assiniboine awards honorary diplomas to those who demonstrate excellence in their personal and professional accomplishments. Past honorary diploma recipients in Brandon include Westman Communications Group CEO David Baxter (2013), Philanthropist and star of CBC’s Dragons’ Den Jim Treliving (2014), Community Leader Mildred Murray (2015) and former Mayor, MLA and MP Rick Borotsik (2016).

The graduation ceremony takes place on Thursday, June 1 at 2 p.m. at the Keystone Centre in Brandon.