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Claudette Commanda

Culture, Heritage and Spirituality (2020)

Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation, QC

“The enrichment of community health and self-esteem for First Nations youth depends on the transmission of knowledge from elders to youth. This is the paramount reason that the survival of languages and culture is critical.”

Professor Claudette Commanda has dedicated her career to promoting First Nations people, rights, history and culture in national and international settings.  She has been inspired by the work of her grandfather, William Commanda, who passed on his teachings and passion for language and cultural preservation to her.  She is not only a University of Ottawa alumna but also a professor, teaching many First Nations-related courses across faculties: Law, Education, the Institute of Women’s Studies, and the Aboriginal Studies Program.  She was the very first “Elder in Residence” appointed to the University’s Faculty of Law as well as the first First Nations person to serve on the University’s Board of Governors.

Having become a trusted advisor and mentor through her work with various government departments, Prof. Commanda serves as the Executive Director for the First Nations Confederacy of Cultural Education Centres, a national organization with the mandate of protecting, promoting and revitalizing First Nations languages and cultures.