He saw his role as a Commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to contribute to building a better country, one that is inclusive for all. A Survivor of the Residential School System and father of three, Chief Littlechild believes in fostering forgiveness while educating Canadians of today and tomorrow.
With great heart and spirit, he travelled the country to hear the stories of other Survivors. As a young boy he lived with his grandparents, who helped instill within him a deep connection to his Cree culture, including its language and sacred ceremonies. His grandfather was Chief of the Ermineskin Cree Nation for more than three decades and taught his grandson about the importance of strengthening the community you call home.
Chief Littlechild knows first-hand the trauma of being forced into Residential School, along with the abuse, cultural disparagement, and longing for his family. He found solace in sports and says that was how he survived the devastating 14 year ordeal.
He would go on to compete internationally in hockey, baseball and swimming, winning more than 70 championships at various levels. An exceptional athlete, he pursued this passion in university, graduating with a Bachelor of Physical Education in 1967 from the University of Alberta and securing a master’s degree eight years later. Knowing the positive power of sport, he helped to found the North American Indigenous Games and the World Indigenous Nations Games and has been inducted into seven Sports Halls of Fame. Chief Littlechild earned a law degree in 1976 and became the first Indigenous lawyer in Alberta; he was also among the first Indigenous members of the Canadian Parliament.
As an MP for Wetakiwin-Rimby from 1988 to 1993, he served on several senior committees and was a parliamentary delegate to the United Nations. He was tireless in his efforts to ensure Indigenous peoples achieve the rights and recognition that is theirs on the international stage.
In 1999, he was inducted as a Member of the Order of Canada. A true leader, he has been recognized with appointments as the Honorary Chief of the Maskwacis Cree and as the International Chief for the Treaty No. 6 Confederacy. He was also elected as the Regional Chief for the three Treaty territories in 2006 and more recently awarded the Alberta Order of Excellence and named a recipient of the Saskatchewan Distinguished Service Award.
From his law firm in his home community of Ermineskin Reserve in Alberta, Chief Littlechild continues to advocate for the implementation of the Treaties and champion the rights of Indigenous peoples.
The University of Manitoba is proud to bestow upon Chief Wilton Littlechild a Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, for his advocacy and leadership.