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: Hon. William McKnight
Convocation date: June 4, 2014
Citation / biographical information:
The Honourable William (Bill) McKnight, P.C., was born and raised in Wartime, Saskatchewan. He is fundamentally a farmer, entrepreneur, and a servant of the public. His prairie roots shaped him and his values. His lifetime of work is a reflection of these roots and values.

Mr. McKnight was in public life from 1979 to 1993 serving as a Member of Parliament for Kindersley-Lloydminster. He served as minister in seven federal ministries: Labour, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Western Economic Diversification, National Defence (during the first Gulf War), Agriculture, and Energy, Mines and Resources. Some of his accomplishments during this time included: representing Canada at First Ministers’ conferences, NATO, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), and UN proceedings; negotiating the Husky Oil Bi-Provincial Upgrader and the $6-billion Hibernia Offshore Oil Project; serving as the first minister of the Department of Western Economic Diversification; and negotiating land claims settlements in the Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Saskatchewan.

Mr. McKnight’s values and roots are reflected most profoundly in what he considers the touchstone accomplishment of his career – the 1992 Saskatchewan Treaty Land Entitlement Framework Agreement. Currently 2.5 million acres of land have been identified which will greatly enhance the economic opportunities for First Nations in Saskatchewan. Through it, an old obligation was fulfilled. It helped to move Saskatchewan from a dark period in its relations with First Nations to one where they were given the opportunity to transform their own futures. This is a reflection of Mr. McKnight’s core values – seize the opportunities that present themselves, or provide opportunities for others so they can seize their own futures.

As the Treaty Commissioner for the Province of Saskatchewan from 2007 to 2012, Mr. McKnight was appointed and mandated by Canada and the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations to assist with Treaty implementation. As Commissioner, he oversaw the curriculum addition of a resource guide for teachers of kindergarten through Grade 12 to teach about treaties in all Saskatchewan schools.

Since leaving public life in 1993, Mr. McKnight has been active in the private sector. He is founding board member and current chair of the Golden Opportunities Fund and director of several public and private companies. Mr. McKnight is the honorary Chief of the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation, a reflection of the high regard and respect accorded him by the Aboriginal community.

Mr. McKnight resides in Saskatoon with his wife, Bev. They have two children, Rob and Torrie.
Degree received: Doctor of Laws
Degree presented by: Michael Atkinson

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