Citizens Hall of Fame 48th inductee, the Honourable Murray Sinclair

By Peter Squire

On September 14, the Honourable Murray Sinclair, C.C., M.S.C. became the 48th inductee to the Winnipeg Regional Real Estate Board’s Citizens Hall of Fame. A ceremony and unveiling took place at a private event, where he was surrounded by family and friends.

When the induction of the Honourable Murray Sinclair was announced, Cliff King, Chair of the Winnipeg Regional Real Estate Board’s Citizens Hall of Fame Selection Committee, said, “The Winnipeg Regional Real Estate Board’s Citizens Hall of Fame program highlights citizens who make outstanding contributions to our city, and in a number of cases, extend well beyond Winnipeg’s boundaries to be of national and international importance. This year, our inductee, the Honourable Murray Sinclair, exemplifies this distinction.”

The Honourable Murray Sinclair is an individual who brings global recognition to our city as a leading advocate for Indigenous Peoples in Canada. At the age of 37, he served as the first Indigenous judge in Manitoba and only the second in Canada. In 2001, was appointed to the Court of Queen’s Bench of Manitoba where he became the first Indigenous judge at this level. He showed great promise right at the outset of embarking on a legal career where he won the A.J. Christie Prize for being the top student at the University of Manitoba in litigation in his second year of law school.

On the national level, His Honour served as chairman of the Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which documented the history of residential schools in Canada and issued 94 Calls to Action and called upon all parts of Canadian Society to commit to reconciliation and to build a more respectful relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people.

He was appointed as a senator from Manitoba in April 2016. Since being appointed to the Senate, Senator Sinclair has helped form the Independent Senators Group and has sat on the Senate Standing Committees on Aboriginal/Indigenous Peoples, Fisheries and Oceans, Legal and Constitutional issues, Rules, and Ethics and Conflicts of Interest.

His Honour is Anishinaabe and a member of the Peguis First Nation. He is a Fourth Degree Chief of the Midewiwin Society, a traditional healing and spiritual society of the Anishinaabe Nation responsible for protecting the teachings, ceremonies, laws, and history of the Anishinaabe. His Spirit Name is Mizhana Gheezhik (The One Who Speaks of Pictures in the Sky).

He received the Order of Canada in 2022 for dedicating his life to championing Indigenous peoples rights and freedoms and received the award from Governor General Mary Simon, Canada’s first Indigenous Governor General.

His Honour chaired the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada from 2009 to 2015 to tell the history of residential schools through the survivors and played an integral role in revealing the truth of what happened and helped set a path towards reconciliation between Indigenous peoples, the churches, and the federal government.

On Canada’s first National Day of Truth and Reconciliation on September 30, 2021, he delivered an important message in his current role as Chancellor of Queen’s University. This day came directly out of the calls to action recommended by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission he chaired. As chair he shared through the Commission’s work and effort, Canadians are realizing the truth of what happened in residential schools and how the harder part now is moving to reconciliation.

“We have to learn how to talk to and about each other with greater respect than has been the case in the past. And ultimately this process of coming to terms with this past, of reconciling our relationship, means we have to aim towards establishing a relationship of mutual respect,” he said.

The Honourable Murray Sinclair’s message concluded “that every year on September 30, we will stand together and we will say never again.”

“We do not typically get to meet citizens who have such a profound and enduring impact on our country and our lives than the individual we are inducting in our Citizens Hall of Fame,” said King. “The Honourable Murray Sinclair is one of them, and so deserving of the accolades he has and will continue to receive for his exceptional life of dedication to truth, reconciliation and education to build a better place for all Canadians from all walks of life.”

It should be noted that his dedication to pursuing education and building a successful career in law was to accomplish something for others, not himself. “It is not for me but for those that need it to be done, as in the whole effort that will continue beyond my lifetime on the 94 truth and reconciliation Calls to Action,” he said.

Founded in 1986 by REALTOR® Harry DeLeeuw in collaboration with former Winnipeg Mayor Bill Norrie, the Winnipeg Regional Real Estate Board’s Citizens Hall of Fame recognizes citizens who have contributed to Winnipeg’s quality of life with exceptional achievements in leadership and community service.

The permanent installation of the Honourable Murray Sinclair’s likeness, as portrayed by local artist Madeleine Vrignon, will be held on Friday, September 16 at 10:00 a.m. at the Citizens Hall of Fame public site located at the southeast corner of Assiniboine Park near Diversity Gardens. The public is welcome to attend this outdoor event.

For more information about the Winnipeg Regional Real Estate Board’s Citizens Hall of Fame or to nominate a deserving individual, visit Citizens Hall of Fame, Winnipeg Regional Real Estate Board. 

Peter Squire is the Winnipeg Regional Real Estate Board’s Vice-President External Relations & Market