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 28, 2003
Discipline / contribution: music - composition ; music - performance; Indigenous education
Citation / biographical information:
Born on a Cree reservation in the Qu’Appelle Valley, Saskatchewan, Buffy Sainte-Marie was adopted and raised in Maine and Massachusetts. She received a Ph.D. in Fine Arts from the University of Massachusetts and also holds degrees in both Oriental Philosophy and Education, influences which form the backbone of her music, visual art and social activism. As a college student in the early 1960s, Buffy Sainte-Marie became known as a writer of protest songs and love songs. She also had a unique career outside the United States, working in Europe, Canada, Australia, Hong Kong and Japan. She wrote songs and essays, established a scholarship foundation to fund Native American study, spent time with indigenous people in far away countries, received two medals from Queen Elizabeth II and presented a colloquium to Europe’s philosophers. She has served as an Adjunct Professor at York University, at Saskatchewan Indian Federated College and at Evergreen State College in Washington.Degree received: Doctor of Letters
Buffy and her son, Dakota Starblanket Wolfchild, became well known for their five years on Sesame Street, where they taught us that “Indians still exist.” Her song “Up Where We Belong,” as recorded by Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes for the film An Officer and A Gentleman, won an Academy Award in 1982. She received the Order of Canada in 1998. She helped establish a new Juno Awards category for Music of Aboriginal Canada, and was chosen by the United Nations to proclaim the International Year of Indigenous People. Buffy Sainte-Marie continues to draw huge crowds, but never forgets her own people and performs regularly on the smallest of reservations across North America. Her art and music are also teaching tools, and she uses these continually to enlighten. Currently she operates the Cradleboard Teaching Project whose interactive multimedia CD-ROM SCIENCE: Through Native American Eyes serves children across North America.
Degree presented by: Marie Battiste, professor of Educational Foundations
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