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Algoma University Community Celebrates First Chancellor and Survivor Shirley Horn

(SAULT STE MARIE, ON- July 29, 2022): Today, the Algoma University community came together to celebrate Shirley Horn, the institution’s first-ever Chancellor. Shirley is an Elder and Indian Residential School Survivor who was sworn into the position at the University’s annual Spring Convocation ceremony in 2015, thereby commencing her term that ended in 2021. 

To celebrate her many accomplishments during her time as Chancellor, an intimate celebration was held on the Algoma University campus today. Students, faculty and staff came together to honour Shirley, and her significant impact on Algoma, the community, and truth and reconciliation efforts. 

Horn is from Chapleau, Ontario, and at the age of five was sent to St. John’s Indian Residential School. She was then transferred to the Shingwauk Indian Residential School at the age of seven, where she remained for six years. In 1981, she helped found the Children of Shingwauk Alumni Association (CSAA), a Survivor organization that has been a leader at the national level on the residential school issue. She remained in a leadership position with the organization for 34 years.

In 2005, Horn returned to the Shingwauk Indian School Residential School site – now the home of Algoma University – to enroll in the Bachelor of Fine Arts program. As a rare graduate of both the Residential School and the University, she received a standing ovation at Convocation in 2009. In 2015, she received the Alumni Achievement Award from the Algoma University Alumni Council.

Horn has been Chief of her own community, the Missanabie Cree First Nation for 10 years, and has also been a member of the Missanabie Cree Elders’ Council. Horn is also Co-Founder of the Echoes of the World Drum Festival, a former member of the Shingwauk Education Trust (SET), and an accomplished artist. Her piece, Project of the Heart, is on permanent display outside of the Doc Brown Lounge at Algoma U.

Chancellor Horn served as the titular head of the institution in her role as Chancellor. She participated in major ceremonies and events, including the annual September Induction as well as Convocation. Horn conferred all degrees. By acting as an ambassador of Algoma U, she also helped to raise the profile of the University as well as assist in both relationship-building and fundraising initiatives. Horn provided support to the University President, as requested, and promoted the University’s Special Mission in regards to Anishinaabe education.


“I know we’ve come a long, long way, but with every one of you in my life, I am so so grateful for everything that has come from this experience, including the experience of being in the residential school. If it wasn’t for that, I would not be able to do the work that I do, and I think that the Creator knew that,” Shared Shirley Horn, Past-Chancellor, Elder and Survivor. “It’s been such a journey that I will treasure for the rest of my life. And I know there’s still a lot more to do. But you know what? Children of Shingwauk are strong. Those of us that are still left, we are a very strong people, because it’s in our hearts. It’s in our hearts so much that we have we can’t do anything but act on it. And I’m so grateful for your friendship, for your love, for your companionship, for your relationships and for being with me all of this time, Miigwetch. I thank the Creator most of all for giving me this job.”

“It has been an honour and privilege to work alongside Shirley and to have had the opportunity to get to know her and call her a friend,” shared President and Vice-Chancellor Asima Vezina. “Her wisdom, passion and knowledge have guided Algoma University to becoming increasingly community focused and committed to impactful action.  Shirley has and continues to champion the work connected to reconciliation while bringing people together from all cultures and communities to learn from and with one another. Shirley leads with kindness and love and has been a wonderful role model for all of us. I am grateful for everything she has done and continues to do for Algoma, Sault Ste. Marie and beyond.”

“Shirley Horn has been instrumental in so many initiatives connected to Algoma University and the Shingwauk site,” shared Krista McCracken, Researcher/Curator, Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre. “She has been an advisor to the Reclaiming Shingwauk Hall exhibition project, guided the university’s approach to cross-cultural learning, and advised on numerous research and artistic projects. On a personal level, Shirley has been someone who I constantly look up to, who I know I can turn to for advice, and someone whose laughter and sense of humour brings me great joy.”

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