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Wilfrid Laurier University Communications, Public Affairs & Marketing
December 10, 2016
Canadian Excellence


Sir Wilfrid Laurier

Wilfrid Laurier University was named after Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Canada’s 7th prime minister (1896-1911). As prime minister, Laurier was a proud Canadian nationalist and nation-builder, known for his efforts in promoting individual liberty and his skills at conciliation.

There are parallels between the approach Sir Wilfrid employed during his political career and key elements of the university’s vision and values. For example, the university’s vision promotes “…instilling the courage to engage and challenge the world in all its complexity.” Two of the university's values include “a life of purpose and citizenship” and “diversity and a culture of inclusivity.”

Sir Wilfrid, a dedicated member of Parliament for 45 years, demonstrated these values through his political approach, persistence in the face of adversity and ability to adapt to changing circumstances.

Faced with a Canada marked by profound divisions – geographic, linguistic, ethnic and religious –  Laurier made efforts as prime minister to reconcile and explain French and English Canadians to one another and to lay the foundation for the country’s bilingual and multicultural future. He attempted to strike middle grounds with a policy of “true Canadianism, of moderation, of conciliation.”

Laurier history professor Adam Crerar says that the university is performing a public service – in the tradition of Sir Wilfrid – to the extent that it encourages students to grapple with, rather than deny, competing perspectives and complicated situations.

“Laurier was, by all accounts, a dignified, charming and eloquent person. His moderate and empathetic approach has been expanded over the years by the country’s best leaders to be more inclusive of a wider range of Canadians,” says Crerar.