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Otto Klassen with his Grandchildren

e-dition - November 1, 2007














Honorary Doctorate of Letters recipient Otto Klassen with his proud grandchildren at the Convocation Dinner.

UWinnipeg Confer HDs on Otto Klassen, Honours Jim Silver
& Howard Mathieson

By Ilana Simon

The University of Winnipeg conferred an Honorary Doctorate on Mennonite documentary filmmaker Otto Klassen; awarded Politics Chair Jim Silver the Erica and Arnold Rogers Award for Excellence in Research and Scholarship; and inducted Howard Mathieson into Fellowship in United College at its 85th Convocation held Sunday, October 21, 2007.

At Convocation Dinner, the University awarded the late Peter Liba, a distinguished Lieutenant Governor, our Global Citizenship Award in recognition of his work in building a tolerance for diversity in our community.

"We can be inspired by today’s honorary degree and award recipients, who, in the words of the poet Stephen Spender, “Wear in their hearts the fire’s center,” University of Winnipeg President and Vice-Chancellor Lloyd Axworthy stated in his Convocation address to graduands.

"The message that we can all recall as we recognise these remarkable people is that there are as many ways of giving to the world as there are people to give; that there are many ways we can fulfill our responsibility."

Otto Klassen was honoured with an Honorary Doctorate of Letters for his contribution to the annals of Mennonite history as a successful and internationally-respected documentary filmmaker. Through more than 50 documentaries, Klassen has made the life stories and history of Mennonites in Canada and around world accessible to a wide audience. In his filmmaking, Klassen has brought to light rare archival footage from North America and Europe and performed a valuable community service by giving voice and picture to the Mennonite history.

Not formally educated after grade seven, Klassen discovered his creative voice and found his artistic focus through keen observation, extensive reading, diligent self study and life experience - including his knowledge of six languages. Klassen's films tell the story of the Mennonite people of Russia, Paraguay, Mexico and Canada. He exhibits careful attention to detail in every project he undertakes and is a diligent researcher, historian and scholar in his own right. By telling the stories of his people, Klassen has ensured that generations of Mennonites and non-Mennonites can learn about the historical trials, suffering and survival of the Mennonite people over the last century.

Jim Silver

Jim Silver, BA (Hons.), MA, PhD Professor and Chair of the Politics Department and Co-director of the Urban and Inner-City Studies Program, was awarded the Erica and Arnold Rogers Award for Excellence in Research and Scholarship for his prolific scholarly work and significant research on inner-city and urban Aboriginal issues.

Silver's research has garnered respect across Canada and, most importantly, by community members with whom he works in his research. His stellar publication record includes more than 100 books, book chapters, monographs and papers on urban Aboriginal community development, inner-city issues, Winnipeg and Manitoba's political economy, urban poverty and public policy. His most recent book In Their Own Voices was nominated for the Alexander Kennedy Isbister Award for Non-Fiction. He played a central role in developing UWinnipeg's Aboriginal Governance and Urban and Inner-City Studies programs and has received several large Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) grants including, as co-investigator, two recent $1-million grants for research on inner-city transformation in Winnipeg, and a grant for research comparing revitalization of inner-city neighborhoods across Canada.

Silver has also been instrumental in establishing a very significant research institute, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives-Manitoba, which has contributed significantly to public policy research in the province. Silver serves as a role model for effective, community-based and politically significant research. 

Howard Mathieson

Howard Mathieson, BA, B.Ed. was inducted into Fellowship in United College. Mathieson was a student at The Collegiate and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from UWinnipeg in 1968. In 1970, he began teaching at The Collegiate and since then has contributed greatly to The Collegiate and University life and governance.

In addition to teaching courses in Economics and Geography, he pioneered personal computer courses at The Collegiate. As well, he organized The Collegiate athletic programs and coached Collegiate basketball teams for several years. Mathieson served as Dean of the Collegiate from 1986-1989 and was known to be approachable and easygoing.

He contributed to university governance as a member of The Collegiate faculty team that negotiated the first contract with The University of Winnipeg and continued to serve on the UWFA Collegiate unit and participate many times in negotiations. He also represented The Collegiate on the Pension Committee and the Senate for many years. Mathieson retired in 2000 after serving the Collegiate for three decades and contributing greatly to the academic and athletic fabric of The Collegiate.

Otto Klassen's Convocation Address

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