Alberta historian and author Hugh A. Dempsey to receive honorary degree

Hugh A. Dempsey, one of Alberta’s most renowned storytellers, authors and historians will be recognized by the University of Lethbridge when he is awarded an honorary degree at 2019 Spring Convocation.

Dempsey, the Chief Curator Emeritus of the Glenbow Museum, has authored more than 20 books that focused primarily on the culture and history of the First Nation peoples of Alberta, securing the stories of elders for future generations. He will be awarded a Doctor of Arts, honoris causa, at the Thursday, May 30, 2019 Spring Convocation II Ceremony at 2:30 p.m. in the 1st Choice Savings Centre gymnasium.

“Hugh Dempsey has played a very important role in the history of our province and more specifically, that of the Blackfoot people. Through his stories and his dedication to capturing the history of First Nations peoples from the elders themselves, he has helped preserve a proud culture for future generations,” says Charles Weaselhead, U of L chancellor. “We are honoured and humbled that he has chosen to accept our offer of an honorary degree.”

In advance of the conferral of his honorary degree, Dempsey will participate in a book signing from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the University Bookstore.

Hugh A. Dempsey

Alberta historian Hugh A. Dempsey has spent the majority of his life enriching and educating readers through his prolific works that brought to light the rich culture and history of the First Nations peoples of Alberta. Through his work as curator/director of the Glenbow Museum, he has helped to shape the way Albertans view and translate their history.

Married in 1953 to Pauline Gladstone, the daughter of Canadian Senator James Gladstone of the Kainai Blackfoot, Dempsey began interviewing Blackfoot elders. With great humility and care, he translated those interviews into stories that told the history of a proud people and reached all sections of society.

In 1967, Dempsey was inducted into the Kainai Chieftainship, conferred the name Potai’na (Flying Chief), after Joe Healy, the first Kainai person to receive an education.

In 1975, Dempsey was invested as a member of the Order of Canada for his contributions to the preservation of the culture and development of interest in the history of the Plains Indians.

Always a storyteller, he has served as a conduit between Native and non-native communities, creating a dialogue of respect and understanding.

Still an active writer, he continues to contribute to the Alberta Historical Review, and is often called upon to lend his considerable expertise and knowledge to the various collections housed at the Glenbow Museum.