Murray Sinclair

The Honourable Justice Murray Sinclair was awarded the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, at the 9:30 a.m. ceremony on Saturday, Nov. 14, “in recognition of his stellar career in judiciary as well as his dedication, care and service to Aboriginal and First Nations peoples and to all Canadians in leading the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.”

Justice Sinclair was appointed chair of the Commission in June 2009 to look into the history and legacy of Indian residential schools.

He was called to the Manitoba Bar in 1980 and became known primarily for his representation of Aboriginal people and his knowledge of Aboriginal legal issues. He was Manitoba’s first Aboriginal judge and only the second in Canada. He was appointed associate chief judge of the Provincial Court of Manitoba in March 1988 and to Manitoba’s Court of Queen’s Bench in January 2001.

He was co-commissioner of Manitoba’s Aboriginal Justice Inquiry, which spent three years studying the province’s administration of justice and its impact on Aboriginals. In 2000, Justice Sinclair completed the report of the Pediatric Cardiac Surgery Inquest into the deaths of 12 children at Winnipeg’s Health Sciences Centre in 1994.

He has received a National Aboriginal Achievement Award in addition to many other community service awards and nine honorary degrees.

Ben Heppner

Ben Heppner was awarded the degree of Doctor of Music, honoris causa, at the 2 p.m. ceremony on Saturday, Nov. 14, “in recognition of his contribution to the pure enjoyment and appreciation of classical music through his consummate artistry, creative genius, arts advocacy, and ability to communicate his impressive knowledge.”

He gained an international reputation as a prominent contemporary dramatic tenor. His career has taken him to opera stages and concert halls around the globe. Associated particularly with the Wangerian repertoire, he has performed a wide range of operas from the German, French and Italian canons.

Ben Heppner, who announced his retirement from singing in April 2014, studied music at the University of British Columbia and first attracted national attention in 1979 as the winner of the CBC Talent Festival.

He is a 1988 winner of the Metropolitan Opera auditions and received Grammy® Awards in 1998 for his recording of Die Meistersinger on London/Decca records and in 2001 for his recording of Les Troyens with the London Symphony Orchestra on LSOLive. Ben Heppner is a Companion of the Order of Canada.

Ben Heppner has taken his voice to the airwaves of CBC Radio as the host of Saturday Afternoon at the Opera and Backstage.

He also hosts master classes and coaches singers for roles and appears on voice competition juries.

He has received several honorary doctorates in addition to many other awards for his singing talent.

Photo: © Sebastian Hänel / DG