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Loreena Isabel Irene McKennitt

Loreena McKennitt: musician, lyricist, Juno award winner, business woman, community
member; a social activist with a global conscience. Today, Wilfrid Laurier University
recognizes a woman who has combined her musical gifts with her entrepreneurial talents
to the enrichment of both the Canadian and international musical communities. She is a
model of success in the Laurier tradition-innovative, artistic, multidisciplinary, rooted
in community values and yet global in her reach.

Loreena McKennitt was born and raised in Morden, Manitoba and attended high school
in Winnipeg. She discovered her passion for music at an early age through Highland dancing,
classical music lessons and Celtic folk music. Reflecting on her roots, she herself has said
that “... coming from a farming and rural background gave me the insight into being
self-sufficient. You become familiar with creative problem solving. If you want something
badly enough, you will roll up your sleeves and start chipping away.“ This has certainly
been her modus operandi.

Loreena’s artistic career began in the 1980s in Stratford, Ontario, where she worked as an
actor, singer and composer for the Stratford Festival. Her independent recording company,
Quinlan Road, was founded in 1985. Since then she has been self-managed, self-produced
and self-released.

Her productivity is impressive and includes such albums as The Visit, Parallel Dreams, The
Mask and Mirror, The Book of Secrets,
and Live in Paris and Toronto. One reviewer has described
her music as an “... eclectic and resolutely individual Celtic/world beat/pop/folk sound.“
The quality of her music is stirring and contemplative, and has a tremendous evocative
power that can transport one’s imagination and mood to different places.

The popularity and significance of her music is undeniable. She has sold nearly 14 million
records around the world. Recognition of her work was given with her first Juno Award for
The Visit, and again in 1994, when she won her second Juno for Best Roots/Traditional Album
for her work on The Mask and Mirror. Her music has been used in a broad range of television
and film productions. Of particular note, the National Film Board used her instrumental
“Tango to Evora“ in the documentary series “Women And Spirituality”.

Her humanity, and her commitment to community values and social causes is evident
throughout her work. In 1998, Loreena established the Cook-Rees Memorial Fund for
Water Safety after her fiancé, his brother and their friend tragically perished in a boating
accident on Lake Huron. This fund has now raised nearly $4 million for research and
education projects that promote risk awareness and responsibility in water environments.

In 2000, Loreena purchased a recently closed heritage school in Stratford and this spring
opened the Falstaff Family Centre. This is a multifaceted community centre that focuses
on the needs of families and children, and houses a number of community-based and
not-for-profit-based organizations.

As a lifelong learner on a journey of self-discovery, cross-cultural exploration and creative
expression, Loreena McKennitt is a kindred spirit of Laurier. We are delighted to be able to
celebrate this convocation with her, and to welcome her to our community.