The Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, PC, CC, CMM, COM, CD

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The Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, PC, CC, CMM, COM, CD

Award Received

Honorary Degree

Convocation Ceremony

Fall 2011 Convocation

The Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, PC, CC, CMM, COM, CD has left an undeniable mark on Canada and forever changed the public's perception of the governor general's role. Her work in that job and throughout her broadcasting career follows a common theme. No matter the medium, Clarkson promotes tolerance, acceptance, belonging and a sense of public responsibility.

Clarkson was sworn in as Canada's 26th governor general on Oct. 7, 1999. Her posting was defined by her dedication to Canada's Armed Forces. She visited troops in Kosovo, the Persian Gulf, Germany and Afghanistan. She did so to educate Canadians about the men and women in service and to honour war veterans.

Born in Hong Kong in 1939, she came to Canada as a refugee with her parents William and Ethel Poy in 1942. She grew up in Ottawa and went on to earn a BA in English literature from the University of Toronto's Trinity College and later earned an MA. She did post-graduate work at the Sorbonne in France and is fluent in English and French.

Clarkson worked as host, writer and producer on several CBC Television programs, including Take Thirty, Adrienne at Large and The Fifth Estate from 1965 to 1987. She has authored five books and contributed articles to magazines and newspapers across Canada.

She served as the first agent-general for Ontario in Paris from 1982 to 1987, promoting Ontario's business and cultural interests in France, Italy and Spain.  She was president of McClelland and Stewart from 1987 to 1988.  In 1988, she became the executive producer, host and writer for the programs Adrienne Clarkson's Summer Festival and Adrienne Clarkson Presents. During this 11-year period, she also directed several films including Artemisia (1992), the story of one of Western Art's greatest women painters, Artemisia Gentileschi and The Lust of His Eye: the life of James Wilson Morrice (1996), arguably one of Canada's greatest internationally known artists of the early 20th Century.

She served as chairwoman to the Board of Trustees for the Museum of Civilization in Hull, Québec and as president of the executive board of the International Music Centre (IMZ), the international audio-visual association of music, dance, and cultural programmers based in Vienna, Austria. In 1991, she chaired the jury for the Banff Television Festival in Banff, Alta. Her work has been recognized with dozens of awards in Canada and the United States, including 27 honorary doctorates. She is a senior fellow at Massey College, University of Toronto, and an honorary fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons, Trinity College, and the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada.

Clarkson was also honoured abroad with the Grand Cross of the Order of Pleiades from France (2001) and the Order of Friendship of the Russian Federation (2006), the only Canadian to be so honoured. She has been active on cultural juries since leaving office in 2005 including chairing the first two Man Asian Literary Prizes established in Hong Kong in 2007. She also juried the Giller Prize for Fiction in 2006 and served on the jury of the Gold Medal for Architecture given by the Royal Architectural Institute.

The Blood Tribe of Alberta adopted her as an honorary chief and Clarkson is proud to retain her new title "Grandmother of Many Nations."

Her official titles include membership in the Queen's Privy Council for Canada (PC), Commander of the Order of Canada (CC), Commander of the Order of Military Merit (CMM), Commander of the Order of Merit of the Police Forces (COM) and the Canadian Forces Decoration (CD).