Renison University College installed Jodey Porter as its 10th Chancellor on Wednesday, November 29, 2023 in the College’s Atrium with almost 150 well-wishers attending in person and online.

Jodey brings to her new role a long and esteemed career in social justice and advocacy work, having served as Assistant Deputy Minister of Health for the Province of Ontario and three terms as Ontario Human Rights Commissioner. She was also a staff member at the United Nations Human Rights Commission; Executive Director of the Canadian Diabetes Association; and Director of Development for the Canadian National Institute for the Blind.

“Jodey Porter shares the values and Mission that Renison holds so deeply. Renison is committed to working towards a more fair and more equitable future for the next generation,” said Renison President, Dr. Wendy Fletcher. “The work of Renison is to help plant the seeds for a brighter future; a future that we may not see first-hand, but we know will be well stewarded due to the industry and commitment of our students. We welcome Jodey into our garden and know that she is committed to nurturing these seeds of tomorrow.”

Jodey stands with President Wendy Fletcher and Board Chair Karen Spencer.

Left to right: Renison President Wendy L. Fletcher, Chancellor Jodey Porter, and Board Chair Karen Spencer.

Following a Thanksgiving Address delivered by Amy Smoke of the Mohawk Nation Turtle Clan from Six Nations of the Grand River, the formal Installation ceremony was performed by Renison’s Visitor and the Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Huron, the Right Reverend Todd Townshend. The Installation ceremony was punctuated by a series of Wisdom texts, proffered by Dr. Tanya Missere-Mihas, Renison’s Vice President of Student Affairs and Community Education; Dr. Kristiina Montero, Renison’s Vice President Academic and Dean; National Indigenous Anglican Archbishop Chris Harper, delivered by the Reverend Canon Murray Still; and Tisa Mushani, Renison student, Board Member, and Co-President of Renison Academic Student Council.

Tisa offered one word as her wisdom text: Ubuntu. “Ubuntu is a Bantu term that directly translates to 'humanity' or, more specifically, 'I am because we are'. Ubuntu is about the interdependence of people to each other, and, on a deeper scale, the responsibility we hold to our fellow humans and the world at large.  When I think of Renison, I think of this collective spirit and people who go out of their way for others. In my 2 years in Canada where I initially knew no one and, at times, felt as if I belonged nowhere, Renison has been that haven that's embodied the values of Ubuntu for me.”

This spirit of togetherness and working together as one was shared by University of Waterloo President, Dr. Vivek Goel who emphasized that “Renison’s commitment toward Equity, Reconciliation and Decolonization is an expiring example of how we can work together toward a more just society.”

Additional greetings and notes of celebration and blessing were also received from The Most Reverend Anne Germond, Archbishop of Algoma and Moosonee, delivered by the Right Reverend Susan Bell; and Bishop Ralph Spence, a former Chancellor of Renison, delivered by the Very Reverend Peter Wall.

Jodey Porter, who lives with blindness, maintained the theme of togetherness and gifts of wisdom throughout her inspiring remarks. She spoke of the donum non gratum, the unwanted gift, or the dark side of wisdom. She spoke of disability as an epistemological advantage: you are able to see the world differently and, therefore, hold a different wisdom. “I see Renison of a sanctuary of those with diverse wisdoms. This is a safe place for the wisdom of the other.”

To conclude the ceremony, Renison Chaplain Reverend Scott McLeod offered a closing prayer, giving thanks for the gifts of the day, and to each of those who offered their voices to celebrate the new Chancellor.

As the formal procession exited the Atrium, led by staff bearers Emily Good and Tisa Mushani, both senior year Renison students, and Mace Bearer Jean Becker, Member of the Renison Board and Associate Vice President Indigenous Relations at University of Waterloo, a great cheer erupted from all of those in attendance.

Renison, and the University of Waterloo community, has formally welcomed its 10th Chancellor into her four-year term.