Brock University is welcoming a new member to take on a leadership role as chancellor. Jack Lightstone recently announced that Shirley Cheechoo, an Aboriginal Canadian actress who is a part of the Cree tribe, has accepted the role at Brock.
Cheechoo was unanimously appointed to become chancellor by Brock University’s Board of Trustees and Senate, and she is set to take on her new role beginning on October 17 during Brock’s convocation. Cheechoo has been ordained for a three-year period for the role of chancellor at the university.
She is a Quebec-born artist, who also runs her own film institute called Weengushk for children of Aboriginal descent. Cheechoo is mainly recognized for her work as a First Nations filmmaker,but she has also established herself as a stage artist. Her work is distinguished through the identification of her Aboriginal roots and has gained recognition at several festivals such as American Indian Film Festival and the Sundance Film Festival.
Her work depicts the many struggles that First Nations face in Canada. Some of her work as a director includes Moose River Crossing, Johnny Tootall, In Shadow, Backroads, Pikutiskaau (Mother Earth) and Silent Tears.
“I never dreamt of being a Chancellor of any university,” Cheechoo said in an interview with Brock News, “and I am proud and honoured to accept this position at Brock University. I have had a rewarding career in the arts, and it’s for this reason I accept this challenge. I have always been involved in youth education, to help them find their path and achieve their dreams.”
This is a big shift and change within the University since Cheechoo is the first woman and Aboriginal Canadian to adopt the role of chancellor. Her predecessor Ned Goodman, a philanthropist and business-oriented man served as chancellor for eight consecutive years.
“We are thrilled to have her become the titular, symbolic head of our University,” said Lightstone in an interview with Brock News. “Among other things, we are at a time when Brock is opening new state-of-the-art facilities for our Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, and Dr. Cheechoo’s artistic contribution to our understanding of the lives and experiences of the Aboriginal peoples of Canada comes at a seminal moment in Canada’s evolution.”
Cheechoo plays a pivotal role as she represents the humanistic and artistic portion of the student body. She also functions as the embodiment of the Aboriginal community at Brock. Students are able to identify with her in a deeper level both academically and personally, which can change the shift of how chancellors are perceived.
The level of authority bestowed with the position of leadership allows Cheechoo to inspire and lead students, which helps create and reinforce Canadian Aboriginal culture and art and incorporate it within the Brock community.