Longest Consecutive Serving Chief in Canada Receives Honourary Diploma from SIIT

During the 2018 Convocation SIIT recognized Chief Marie-Anne DayWalker-Pelletier with a Honourary Diploma in Business Administration.

“Awarding a honourary diploma is really the highest honour we can give someone,” stated SIIT President and CEO, Riel Bellegarde.

In seeking recipients SIIT’s Board of Governors look for well respected leaders in the Indigenous community that strongly value education and have a positive relationship with the institute.

“I can’t think of a more deserving candidate. Chief DayWalker-Pelletier’s history as a leader speaks for itself. She is a great role model for our students and a strong advocate for education,” adds Bellegarde.

Chief DayWalker-Pelletier was elected Chief of Okanese First Nation, Treaty 4 Territory in March 1981 when she was 26 years old. She has served for 37 years in her home community and holds esteem not only as the longest consecutive serving female Chief but also as the longest consecutive serving Chief in all of Canada.

Chief DayWalker-Pelletier is a strong advocate for women and was one of the first elected leaders to advocate on the issue of missing Indigenous women. Her work with then premier, Lorne Calvert, led to the Provincial Partnership Committee on Missing Persons in Saskatchewan. Saskatchewan continues to lead the nation not only on the issue of missing people, but now on the issue of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.

Her voice is well respected not only in Saskatchewan but across the nation. She is often approached for her advice on a variety of topics. One of her outstanding leadership qualities is her ability to work closely with all members of council, employees and general membership; ensuring that all voices are heard, regardless of status.

SIIT appreciated her direct guidance as Vice-Chair of the Regional Advisory Board for the National Native Alcohol and Drug Prevention Program focusing on wellness priorities for Indigenous communities. These priorities helped to shape the type of training SIIT provides to addictions and wellness workers across the province.

Chief DayWalker-Pelletier spoke of her role, “working to improve the lives of Indigenous people in my community and beyond has been my lifelong commitment”. Further she, “encourages graduates to use their education to be leaders within their communities with traditional culture and spirituality as the foundation.”

“Chief Marie-Anne DayWalker-Pelletier is a wonderful advocate for Indigenous education and our young people. She has done so much for Indigenous people across Saskatchewan and the excellence she has shown reflects the passion and values of SIIT,” expressed Chief Darcy Bear, Board Chair of SIIT.