Honouring Human Rights Leaders Roméo Dallaire and Father Patrick Desbois

Special Convocation Slated For Friday May 3, 2013

Roméo Dallaire and Father Patrick Desbois

Roméo Dallaire and Father Patrick Desbois

Watch the Special Convocation Video

WINNIPEG, MB – The University of Winnipeg today announced it will award Honorary Doctorates to two renowned champions of human rights, Lieutenant-General The Honorable Roméo Dallaire and Father Patrick Desbois, in a Special Convocation ceremony to be held on May 3, 2013.

Dallaire has witnessed and tried to prevent the unspeakable: the massacre of 800,000 people in Rwanda. As Force Commander of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Rwanda in 1994, he refused orders to leave the country and remained to protect those trying to escape the genocide. It was a mission that left Dallaire with deep emotional scars and a fierce determination to advance global human rights, most notably, ending the recruitment and use of child soldiers around the world.

The distinguished Father Desbois, renowned for his work in the areas of conflict resolution, reconciliation and restorative dialogue, has devoted his life to confronting anti-Semitism. As co-founder of Yahad – In Unum, an organization that promotes dialogue between Jewish and Catholic people, Father Desbois has earned international respect as a humanitarian.

“Senator Dallaire and Father Desbois are extraordinary individuals who are compelled to confront injustice and inhumanity, and work tirelessly to ensure that the darkest periods of history are never repeated,” said Dr. Lloyd Axworthy, President and Vice-Chancellor, UWinnipeg. “They stand as role models to all of us, and most especially to the next generation of youth and students who are seeking to create a world based on respect, inclusion, understanding and peace.”

The University of Winnipeg’s Special Convocation will be held on Friday, May 3, 2013 at 9:30 a.m., in the Richardson College for the Environment and Science Complex Power Corporation of Canada Atrium, located at 599 Portage Avenue. Dallaire will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Sacred Letters, and Father Desbois will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Divinity.

Father Desbois will also be the keynote speaker at the Freeman Family Foundation Holocaust Education Centre’s 12th Annual Holocaust Symposium, on Wednesday, May 1, 2013. It will be held at The University of Winnipeg’s Duckworth Centre, with 1,600 Manitoba students participating.


Biography – Father Patrick Desbois

Desbois has devoted his life to confronting anti-Semitism. The grandson of a WWII French prisoner held in the Rawa Ruska camp on the Poland-Ukraine border, Desbois began his research in 2002, on the story of the Jewish, Roma and other victims murdered in Eastern Europe during WWII by the Nazi mobile killing units, known as the Einsatzgruppen.

In 2004, Desbois co-found Yahad – In Unum, meaning together in Hebrew and Latin, an organization that supports dialogue between Jewish and Catholic authorities. His extraordinary work to preserve the memory of Ukraine’s former Jewish community and to advance understanding of the crimes committed there during the Holocaust has received international attention and given voice to those that were lost during this dark time in history. For more information on his work visit Yahad – In Unum.

Biography –  Lieutenant-General The Honorable Roméo A. Dallaire  

Roméo Dallaire was appointed  to the Canadian Senate effective March 24, 2005 and is a retired Canadian Army Lieutenant-General. A devoted humanitarian, Dallaire is President of the Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire Foundation; founder of the Child Soldiers Initiative, a project aimed at eradicating the use of child soldiers; an outspoken advocate for Human Rights, particularly War-Affected Children, Women, the Canadian First Nations, and Military Veterans; a respected champion of Genocide Prevention initiatives, the Responsibility to Protect doctrine, and Nuclear Non-Proliferation, as well as a best-selling author.

Throughout his distinguished military career, Dallaire served in North America, Europe, and Africa. Most notably, Dallaire was appointed Force Commander of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Rwanda prior to and during the 1994 genocide.

Dallaire is an Officer of the Order of Canada, and recipient of numerous awards including the United Nations Association of Canada’s Pearson Peace Medal, and the Harvard University Humanist Award, the Meritorious Service Cross, the United States Legion of Merit and the Aegis Award on Genocide Prevention.

Dallaire has served on the UN Advisory Committee on Genocide Prevention, as Special Advisor to the Minister of Veterans Affairs Canada, as Advisor to the Minister of National Defense, and as Special Advisor to the Minister responsible for the Canadian International Development Agency on matters relating to War Affected Children.

His harrowing experiences in Rwanda are detailed in Shake Hands with the Devil – the Failure of Humanity in Rwanda, which won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction in 2004 and provided the basis for an Emmy Award-winning documentary as well as a major motion picture of the same name; it has also been entered into evidence in war crimes tribunals trying the perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide. Dallaire’s most recent book, They Fight Like Soldiers; They Die Like Children – the Global Quest to Eradicate the Use of Child Soldiers, introduces the Child Soldier phenomenon and solutions to eradicate it: a mission to which Dallaire has committed the rest of his life.
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Diane Poulin, Communications Officer, The University of Winnipeg

P: 204.988.7135, E: d.poulin@uwinnipeg.ca




1 Comment

  • Bella Weinberg said...

    Honouring these two unbelievable humanitarians at your convocation in May makes one believe in the wonderful works of your university! As a member of the symposium committee, I will attend with pride and honour. Hopefully all the graduates and young people attending the symposium will come away with thoughts and emotions that will really make a difference in the way they view prejudices and the difference ONE person can make in a lifetime! Congratulations!