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The chancellor is the titular head of the University of Ottawa. Image: University of Ottawa/Release.
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Commanda will step into the role on Nov. 9

Claudette Commanda, an Algonquin Anishinabe from Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation in Quebec, has been appointed chancellor of the University of Ottawa. She will succeed Calin Rovinescu following the end of his second mandate later this fall. 

Commanda is the first Indigenous person to be appointed in the university’s history. 

Commanda holds degrees from both the faculty of arts and the faculty of law, common law section. She graduated in 1993 and 1997, and has taught courses at the faculty of law, faculty of education, and the Institute of Women’s Studies. 

Commanda has been an activist and amplifier for Indigenous voices both on- and off-campus for over thirty years. 

As a student, she created a First Nations student association with the goal of improving Indigenous representation on campus. Later, in 1997, she founded what is today known as the Mashkawazìwogamig Indigenous Resource Centre.

She has achieved a number of firsts in Indigenous leadership at the U of O. Not only did she become the first ever person of First Nations heritage to sit on the University of Ottawa’s Board of Directors in 2017, but she was also the university’s very first Elder-in-residence. The role was created by the faculty of law to ensure the campus was both safe and welcoming for Indigenous people.

“This means honour, pride, and happiness to me, but it also means bringing the validation and recognition that Algonquin people have so much to contribute, and we continue to contribute. It’s so meaningful and I’m so honoured to be chosen for this position,” said Commanda. 

Outside of the university community, Commanda is the executive director for the First Nations Confederacy of Cultural Education Centres, a non-profit, national organisation with over 50 cultural centres across Canada. 

A media release from the university stated, “Ms. Commanda, who received the 2020 Indspire Award for culture, heritage and spirituality, wants to continue the university’s historic support around reconciliation when she steps into the new role.”

Author

  • After spending a year heading the Fulcrum’s multimedia team, Hailey has joined forces with Jasmine as the Fulcrum’s co-EIC’s. Outside of the Fulcrum, she is a writer for Her Campus at U Ottawa and spent some time as a contract author for aJoara Books. With an interest bordering on obsession with literature, Hailey can often be found in bookstores or hunkered down on her kindle.