Dionne Brand, poet, writer, filmmaker and educator, who was born in Guayaguayare, Trinidad, is one of 15 persons who will receive honorary degrees from the University of Toronto this year.
The list of recipients of honorary degrees for 2018, released last week, includes Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States Elena Kagan, parliamentarian William Graham, artist Buffy Sainte-Marie, Indigenous youth champion Cindy Blackstock, long-time university volunteer George Myhal, and innovation and entrepreneurship leader Ilse Treurnicht. They will receive their degrees at a convocation ceremony this spring or fall and address a graduating class.
Brand, winner of the Governor General’s Award and the Griffin Poetry Prize, and former poet laureate of Toronto, is considered one of Canada’s most accomplished poetic voices. She was named Toronto’s poet laureate in 2009 and was appointed to the Order of Canada in 2017 for her contributions to Canadian literature and poetry, and for raising awareness of issues related to gender, race and intercultural experiences. She holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree from the University of Toronto.
Her fiction includes the short-story collection Sans Souci and Other Stories (1989) and the novels At the Full and Change of the Moon (1999), What We All Long For (2005), which won the Toronto Book Award for its charged, challenging and lyrical examination of belonging in a multicultural city, and Love Enough (2014).
Brand ‘s non-fiction works includes No Burden to Carry (1991), a book of oral histories of Black women in Ontario, Bread Out of Stone (1994), a book of critical essays on gender and race issues in Canada, and A Map to the Door of No Return (2001), a self-reflexive meditation on memory, identity and the history of the African diaspora.
She has also written or co-directed films for the National Film Board of Canada, including Older, Stronger, Wiser (1989) and Sisters in the Struggle (1991), portraits of influential Canadian women of colour.
Brand currently holds a Research Chair in English and Creative Writing at the University of Guelph.