Dr. Ted Moses was awarded a second honorary doctorate at Concordia University June 13, becoming a Doctor of Laws Honorif causa once again. His ongoing contributions at the United Nations as an international Aboriginal human rights leader have finally been acknowledged in Quebec.
“It came as a big surprise,” Moses exclaimed. “I did not expect it on this side of Canada. The University of Saskatchewan granted me my first honorary doctorate and it meant a lot for my people and myself. Now that I have received a second one, it definitely confirms that we, as Native people, have achieved political awareness and empowerment next to our Canadian counterparts.”
Dr. Moses says he is seeing his demand for the recognition of the Crees rewarded. “When Concordia initiated the Aboriginal Studies program, I was so grateful that we were now recognized as a People, where we are right now and how far we’ve come as a Nation,” he said.
As Moses began his speech, the commencement audience fell silent and attentive. “Concordia has been a friend of the Cree for some time. It is not easy for the Cree to study somewhere that is foreign to their culture. We have defended our language, our culture and our land for very long. We have always been proud.”
Moses added the fact that Concordia has introduced an Aboriginal Studies program is a definite indication that the Cree are moving forward. His relationship with professors at Concordia has significantly facilitated the completion of this particular program, he noted. “This will increase non-native knowledge about us. It will definitely help us be recognized and we will no longer be singled out of society.”
Moses said his hard work to ensure “that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights” has paid off. Throughout his life, Moses has always been in demand for his leadership and negotiating skills, which have earned him international respect and credibility.
As a leader of the Cree Nation, Dr. Moses still works to find the time for his family. “I am ecstatic to be receiving this doctorate but most of all, I am glad to share this day with my family. Without them I would not be able to serve my people. They are definitely my rocks. I would like to thank my wife, Elsa, my children, Donovan, Nian and Allan.” He went on to thank his parents, all Crees, all of his colleagues, his executive assistant, Linda Corston and last but not least, the University of Concordia for bestowing him with such recognition.
Dr. Moses expressed his appreciation for the Cree Nation: “I am so proud of their support. Together, we can be fully acknowledged on a sustainable basis. We must all think about the future of our Nation. We need young people to pursue their education. Things have changed economically and our skills need to change with it. These days, we cannot just become hunters, fishers and trappers. We must be educated in order to survive. We also need to learn from all our failures.” Being a politician is a struggle, said Moses, but he insists on being persistent and knowledgeable. “You must always be in touch with what’s going on with your people in all fields: linguistics, culture, history and current events.” Even though it is a long process to achieve certain goals, determination to pursue these goals can be extremely rewarding, said Moses.
Dr. Ted Moses has come a long way since serving his home community of Eastmain and he has no intention of retiring anytime soon. After receiving such honours, Moses said, the drive inside him has only been strengthened. He promised to continue to serve the Cree Nation with dignity and compassion.