Ramon Hnatyshyn was born in Saskatoon in 1934. In that year, R.B.. Bennett was Prime Minister of Canada, William Lyon Mackenzie King was plotting his downfall. J. S. Woodsworth, leader of the new CCF party, was promoting its 1933 Regina Manifesto, and William Aberhart was but a year away from applying the doctrine of Social Credit to the Province of Alberta. In such heady days, the young Ramon must have been tempted to enter politics immediately. Instead when he came of age, and perhaps anticipating vice-regal duties, he entered Victoria School, which had been founded in 1888,in the 51st year of Queen Victoria's reign.
Ramon's father, the late John Hnatyshyn, lawyer and Senator, and his mother Helen Constance Pitts, honorary graduate of the University of Saskatchewan were both children of pioneer Ukrainian immigrants.
Ramon obtained his BA. in 1954 and LL.B. in 1956 from the University of Saskatchewan, the home of the "Huskies"- the pesky Huskies who often snap irreverently at the heels of our nobleBisons. Whilst at University, he jointed the RCAF Reserve Training Plan and had summer postings in Moose Jaw, Gimli, Kingston and France, and later served in the Air Reserve. Also, whilst at University, he displayed skill with the basketball and the clarinet, the former at intercollegiate level, and the latter with a popular and slightly notorious, music group known as 'The College Nine'. He later lectured in law at his University for a period of 8 years.
From 1958 to 1960, he served as Private Secretary toW. M. Aseltine, then Government Leader in the Senate of Canada, before resuming the practice of law in Saskatoon. In 1974, be was elected to the House of Commons where he sat continuously until 1988, nine years in opposition and 5 years in the Cabinet as Minister of State for Science and Technology, Minister of Energy, Mines & Resources, Government House Leader, President of the Privy Council, Minister Responsible for Regulatory Affairs, and Attorney General for Canada. Finally, on January 29, 1990, he was named 24th Governor-General of Canada.
Meanwhile, in 1960, he had married Karen Gerda Nygaard Andreasen, a native of Winnipeg; this gave a big boost to his career. Her Excellency has a degree in dietetics and nutrition from the University of Saskatchewan and has worked extensively as a professional in those fields. In addition, she has devoted much personal time to health and social causes, including drug abuse, Alzheimer's disease, the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome and breast cancer. Their Excellencies have two sons, John Georg and Carl Andrew Nygaard, aged 23 and 18 years, respectively.
His Excellency's private life was marked by service to the community, for example, to the United Nations Association, to the United Way Campaign, to the YMCA and to the Mendel Art Gallery of Saskatoon. In his present office, he is actively supporting the environment, literacy, seniors and voluntarism.
To select from his many honours, I mention that he is Queen's Counsel for Saskatchewan and for Canada, he has been awarded five honorary degrees and in 1989 he was recipient of the St. Volodymyr Medal of the World Congress of Ukrainians - for "outstanding contributions to the cause of justice and civil liberties". Many in Canada resonate with this last-named award, because of his exceptional contributions to civil liberties during his two years as Attorney-General.
The Order of Canada is governed by the motor "They desire a better country." The members of the order are gratified that their Chancellor and principal Companion exemplified so effectively that lofty ideal. But in addition, all Canadians are proud that the Queen's representative displays in his own person those qualities which we claim for our national persona - qualities of decency, of fairness, of tolerance and of generosity. He is not only a member of the Great and the Good, he is the captain of the team.
Mr. Chancellor, in the name of the Senate of The University of Manitoba, I inquest that you confer on Ramon John Hnatyshyn, the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.
-citation delivered by Arnold Naimark, President, University of Manitoba