Memorable Manitobans: Donald Alexander “Don” Robertson (1935-2019)
Born at Norway House on 18 May 1935, son of Sarah and James Robertson, he attended the Cook Christian Training School (Phoenix, Arizona) and Union College (British Columbia) to become an ordained United Church minister. His first pastoral charge was at Victoria United Church (1967-1970) in Melita where he met his future wife Beverly. They also spent two years at Knox United Church (Russell).
He became involved in indigenous education in the 1970s, at Brandon University, where he was director of the Indian-Metis Project for Action in Careers through Teacher Education (IMPACT) and director of the Brandon University Northern Teacher Education Project (BUNTEP). These programs increased dramatically the cadre of certified First Nations and Metis teachers in Manitoba. He subsequently joined Red River College as Dean of Aboriginal Education and Institutional Diversity.
Starting in 1999, he served for eight years as Chair of the Council on Post-Secondary Education (COPSE), stepping down to chair the implementation team for the University College of the North (UCN). He provided leadership in the establishment of educational governance systems in First Nation communities and regions, and also led the development of necessary support systems. Throughout his career and retirement, he mentored many people to assume leadership roles in education, community development, and governance. In recognition of his community service, he received honorary doctorates from Brandon University (1992) and the University of Manitoba (2007), was inducted into the Order of Manitoba (2004), and received the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal (2012).
He died at Winnipeg on 27 December 2019 and was to be interred at Melita.
Honorary degree citation, University of Manitoba.
Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 31 December 2019.
We thank Keven Van Camp for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 8 January 2020