N.B.: The detail displayed about each honorary degree recipient varies, as
the database was compiled from a variety of sources. However, more information may
be available at the University Archives.
Convocation date: May 13, 1964
Discipline / contribution: theology ; Indigenous culture
Citation / biographical information:
Eminent Chancellor, on behalf of the University Council and Senate, I present to you the Reverend Ahab Spence, BA, LTh.Degree received: Doctor of Laws
By birth, Mr. Spence is a Swampy Cree Indian, descendant of a long line of Hudson’s Bay Indians whose tribe came under the influence of an early missionary of the Anglican Church, the reverend John West, the Hudson’s Bay Company’s first chaplain.
Educated in the Indian boarding school at The Pas, Ahab Spence entered Emanuel College at an early age and graduated as a Licentiate in Theology in 1937. He later obtained the Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Saskatchewan. His first appointment was in the ancient Stanley mission, where he stayed for six years, traversing the lonely regions by canoe in the summer time and by dog team in winter. For 25 years he has served the Anglican Church in the Province of Saskatchewan, latterly as Commissary for the Indian Missions in the Diocese of Saskatoon with the Dignity of Archdeacon. In 1963 he was pointed Principal of the Indian Residential School at Sioux Lookout, Ontario. Mr. Spence has been a member of both the Anglican Provincial Synod of Rupertsland and the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada, and has served in the Reserve Chaplaincy of the RCAF.
However, Mr. Spence’s influence has extended far beyond the bounds of his Church. He has been active in the affairs of the Indian-Eskimo Association of Canada and was General Chairman of the Fourth Annual Conference of this body. He has served, and is serving, as Convenor of Indian-Eskimo education of the Home and School and Parent-Teacher Federation at the national level. Last March he headed a delegation from that organization in presenting a brief on Indian education to the Honorable Rene Tremblay, Minister of Immigration and Citizenship at Ottawa.
His writings have included reports and surveys for a number of committees and commissions, and translation work into the Cree language. He is in great demand as a public speaker.
Throughout his career, he has, without self-consciousness and with winning humour, proclaimed his proud heritage, and has been a firm link between Indian and white man and an eloquent interpreter of each to the other.
Eminent Chancellor, I present to you the Reverend Ahab Spence and ask that you will confer on him the degree of Doctor of Laws honoris causa.
Degree presented by: R.N.H. Haslam, Head of Physics
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