Honorary Degrees

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.

Name: Frederick James Carmichael
Convocation date: June 5, 2013
Discipline / contribution: aboriginal leadership ; business and industry
Citation / biographical information:

Fred Carmichael is a businessman, commercial pilot, political leader and Gwich’in Elder who exemplifies the spirit of Aboriginal Northerners.

Born in Aklavik, Northwest Territories, Fred’s father was a Trapper who was the first elected Member to the Northwest Territories Council. The Council held meetings in Ottawa at the time, and evolved today into the Legislative Assembly of the Government of the Northwest Territories. Fred’s mother came from a long line of Gwich’in Chiefs.

He obtained his private pilot’s licence in 1955 and in 1958, Fred was the first Aboriginal pilot in the Canadian north to acquire a commercial pilot’s license. He started his first business, Reindeer Air Service, in the 1960’s with a single-

engine, wooden prop Stinson aircraft and a “Specialty License” to survey the reindeer herds located in the small village of Reindeer Station, on the Mackenzie River, 50 miles south of the Arctic Ocean . He started Western Arctic Air Ltd. in the early 1980’s. In the 1990’s, he founded Western Arctic Nature Tours and worked with local tourism operators to develop and deliver tour packages. Throughout his years in aviation, Fred supported the training of successful local pilots, aircraft engineers, mechanics, flight attendants and dispatchers. As an adventurous bush-pilot, Fred operated many successful rescue missions and still holds a commercial pilot’s licence after almost 60 years of accident-free flying.

From 2000-2008, Fred served as President of the Gwich’in Tribal Council and CEO of the Gwich’in Development Corporation. When Fred decided not to run for re-election in 2008, his business associates asked what type of gift Fred would like as a token of appreciation for his work with them. Fred asked that a scholarship fund be set up for adult students in the region who are returning to school to better their education. Each year, the “Friends of Fred Carmichael Scholarship” continues to support these students.

Fred became a director of the Aboriginal Pipeline Group in 2001 and Chair in 2002, a role he continues to hold today. He is dedicated to his goal of self sufficiency for the Aboriginal people, through building an economic base for northern communities.

He is past President of the Métis Association and sat as a member of the Inuvik Town Council. He was a founding member of the Inuvik Aviation Council and Northern Air Transport Association. Fred has been recognized by many groups, receiving the Métis “Order of the Sash”, the Queen’s Jubilee Medal, a National Aboriginal Achievement Award, the Order of Canada and is a Laureate of the Canadian Council of Aboriginal Business. In 1998, his home community rallied to have the local airport renamed and it has now been officially named the “Aklavik Freddie Carmichael Airport” by Transport Canada.

Although he regrets not having had the opportunity to complete a formal education, Fred continues to be passionate about encouraging young people to continue theirs. He has been described as a superb mentor, and an excellent and patient teacher himself.
Degree received: Doctor of Laws
Degree presented by: Heather Magotiaux

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