Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Ralph Goodale Pays Tribute To Dr. Lloyd Barber

Ralph Goodale pays tribute to a great Saskatchewanean:


Close to 1500 people streamed into the big gymnasium at the University of Regina last week to say farewell to the late Dr. Lloyd Barber. He passed away on September 16th at the age of 79.

Proficient in business and intensely interested in Aboriginal issues, Dr. Barber’s passion was always higher learning and knowledge.

He was a graduate of the University of Saskatchewan and later returned there to teach, becoming Dean of Commerce and then Vice-President. In 1976, he began a remarkable 15-year stint as President of the “new” University of Regina.

During that period, Dr. Barber was a driving-force behind the creation of Saskatchewan Indian Federated College, which later became First Nations University. He found great wisdom in a saying by historic Cree Chief Ahtahkakoop about “education being the ‘new buffalo’ for Indian people”.

For his work in Indian education (and his 12 years as Canada’s Indian Land Claims Commissioner), Saskatchewan First Nations people named him Honourary Indian Chief Little Eagle.

Lloyd Barber believed in fact-based decision-making rooted in the pursuit of truth, reasoned arguments, and the broadest dissemination of knowledge. He wanted young people especially to be inspired by curiosity, to stretch their minds and think critically for themselves.

For these reasons, he always tried to advance and defend the vital role that universities and other institutions of higher learning play in our society.

If we want to be fiscally and economically successful, if we want to be productive, competitive and socially progressive, if we want to generate better jobs and higher disposable incomes, if we want to insulate ourselves from things like recessions – then we need to invest in knowledge, learning and skills.

One of his favourite quotes (from Harvard educator Derek Bok) was this: “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance”.

Good point, Dr. Barber. Thank you for a life well-lived.

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