Gabriel Dumont Institue


Dr. Cook: Former GDI Chair to Receive Honorary PhD

May 16, 2017

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By James Oloo

Earl Cook, a former co-chair of the Gabriel Dumont Institute Board of Governors, has been invited by Elizabeth Williamson, the University of Saskatchewan Secretary, on behalf of Chancellor Roy Romanow and President Peter Stoicheff, to accept an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University at a ceremony that will take place on June 7, 2017.

Earl’s selfless service to Saskatchewan, his passion and commitment to Indigenous education and wellbeing, and love for the North have continuously demonstrated a level of altruistic dedication that is outstanding. His efforts have been recognized by the University of Saskatchewan. Soon, you can call him Dr. Earl Cook.

Earl has always believed that access to quality education is key to improving the success of Indigenous peoples. Since 1970s, he has fought for Indigenous voice in the Saskatchewan education system. He graduated with a Bachelor of Education degree in 1980 and a Post Graduate Diploma in 1985 from the University of Saskatchewan, majoring in Indian and Northern Education. While on campus, he was part of a group of Métis students who formed Local 126: “We lobbied for a Native Studies Department, which came to fruition in the early 80s,” he fondly recalls.

Throughout his career, Earl has held positions of service to the public starting in the early 1970s when he served as a community development worker for the Métis Society of Saskatchewan in his home town of Cumberland House. He has taught elementary grades and university courses and has served as a faculty member, Director, and Special Advisor to the President/CEO of the Northern Teacher Education Program (NORTEP), Instructor at the Northern Professional Access College, and Coordinator of the Northern Health Strategy.

Earl has also held positions in the Saskatchewan public service including as Director of Post-Secondary Education, Northern Region; Director of Health, Northern Region; and Director of Can-Sask Career and Employment Services, Northern Region, among others.

Earl has a history with Gabriel Dumont Institute having served as a member of the board of governors and co-chair. As he puts it, “I was a GDI board member and co-chair during the difficult years, financially, in the mid-1990s. I also sat on the scholarship committee, and was involved with the Gabriel Dumont College.”

He currently serves on the Kikinahk Friendship Centre board in La Ronge. His role with Kikinahk enables him to participate in the Association of Friendship Centres of Saskatchewan and the National Association of Friendship Centres.

Earl has been serving as the Interim Area Director of the Métis Nation–Saskatchewan Northern Region I since 2013 and is a founding member of the Saskatchewan Métis Veterans Association. He has served on a number of committees throughout the years. These include the Indian and Métis Curriculum Advisory Committee, the Saskatchewan Indian Languages committee, and the Northern Labour Market Committee.

Earl is a fluent Swampy Cree speaker. He was raised in the traditional lifestyle in his early years, spending time on the trapline and working with his father Lawrence in commercial fishing. Earl has three brothers and two sisters and is the father of one son, Blayne, and has one granddaughter, Kennedy.

The honorary degree gives Earl the right to the honorific of “doctor.” The Latin term “honoris causa” means “for the sake of the honor.” The University of Saskatchewan honorary Doctor of Laws (honoris causa LL.D) is awarded upon approval by the University Senate in recognition of “outstanding achievement in law or for exceptional service to the University or the community at large.” Congrats Earl for a well-deserved recognition.

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