Douglas Cardinal, visionary designer, activist, philosopher, artist, and one of Canada’s foremost architects, received an honorary degree on June 6, 2018 at Queen’s Law convocation.
“It’s a special honor to be receiving an Honorary Doctor of Laws from Queen’s given that it is one of the top universities in Canada, and in particular has such a strong reputation for its Faculty of Law,” said Cardinal. “It’s my privilege to be included among an alumni community that includes outstanding Indigenous professionals who are making major contributions to their communities and to First Nations.”
The Faculty is also honouring Cardinal through a bursary in his name. Established with an initial gift from Law’95 alumnus David Sharpe, the Douglas Cardinal Bursary will provide financial support to Indigenous students in any year of the JD program.
Calgary born, Cardinal attended the University of British Columbia in his youth prior to graduating from the University of Texas School of Architecture in 1963. He began winning critical acclaim and awards for his designs not long after launching his career. That success has continued ever since, for Cardinal’s approach to architecture is both innovative and unique. As he explains, “Without any preconceptions, I evolve a design from the inside out, open to all possibilities.”
Cardinal is renowned for creating the smooth, curvilinear architectural designs that have come to embody an Indigenous style of Canadian architecture. Throughout the 1990s, he led the way in providing architectural definition to the aims and aspirations of Indigenous communities across North America.
Among the many well-known, critically lauded buildings he has designed are the Canadian Museum of Civilization (now called the Canadian Museum of History) in Gatineau, Quebec; the Meno Ya Win Health Centre in Sioux Lookout, Ontario; and the Aanischaaukamikw Cree Cultural Institute in Oujé-Bougoumou, Quebec, which earned a United Nations Award of Excellence for sustainable designs and was celebrated at Expo 2000 in Hanover, Germany.
Cardinal has received numerous national and international awards, including 20 honorary doctorates, Gold Medals of Architecture in Canada and Russia, and an award from the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural organization for his design of the Best Sustainable Village. He was also appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1989, and in 2006 declared “World Master of Contemporary Architecture” by the International Association of Architects.
He has given generously of his time to Queen’s Law, including special speaking visits to the Faculty, and serving on a selection committee for the large-scale Indigenous art installation now in the law school’s atrium, “words that are lasting” by Hannah Claus.