Distinguished Leader

The Distinguished Leader Lecture Series honours leaders from the business community and offers students the opportunity to learn from these outstanding individuals.

The Distinguished Leader Lecture Series is supported by the D.G Willmot Lecture Fund

Headshot of Margaret Kenequanash

2021 Distinguished Leader


CEO of Wataynikaneyap Power

Margaret Kenequanash, a prominent First Nations leader and energy executive, is the Goodman School of Business 2021 Distinguished Leader.

For more than a decade, Kenequanash has been championing the Wataynikaneyap Power Project, an endeavour between 24 First Nations to bring power to 17 remote communities that are currently powered by diesel fuel. This is Canada’s largest First Nations-owned infrastructure project. Wataynikaneyap, which means ‘line that brings light’ in Anishiniiniimowin, represents more than the power it will supply the communities — it also reflects the socio-economic opportunities it will bring for future generations.

In partnership with Fortis Inc. and other private investors, the 1,800-kilometre, up to $1.9-billion transmission line has a 2023 target completion date. Kenequanash ensures that the work between all the partners is anchored in First Nations protocols, culture and respect for the land and the environment.

Kenequanash said she is accepting the Distinguished Leader award on behalf of “our People and our partners.” “The Wataynikaneyap Power Project is an unprecedented undertaking, majority owned by First Nations controlling the development in their homelands. I hope students will be inspired to think about new, innovative partnership models for the 21st century as they embark on their own careers.”

Goodman Dean Andrew Gaudes said Margaret’s “collaborative approach to leadership and holistic perspective on project management can lead to a positive transformation in the lives of an entire community.”

Kenequanash has more than 30 years of experience working with First Nations and Tribal Councils in senior positions, was the first female Chief of her community, North Caribou Lake First Nation, and has significant experience in the fields of financial, health and project management and supporting community development initiatives.

The Distinguished Leader series honours leaders from the business community and offers students the opportunity to gain insights from outstanding individuals.

About the award

Year Honoree Title
2020 Bonnie Lysyk 13th Auditor General of Ontario
2019 Michael Lee-Chin Founder and Chairman, Portland Holdings, and Chairman and CEO, Mandeville Private Client Inc.
2018 Julia Deans CEO, Habitat for Humanity
2017 Deepak Chopra former President and CEO, Canada Post
2016 Martine Irman Vice Chair, TD Securities and Senior Vice President, TD Bank Group
2015 Rossana Magnotta Founder and CEO, Magnotta Winery
2014 Len Pennachetti President and Founding Partner, Cave Spring Cellars
2013 Ned Goodman Founder and CEO, Dundee Corporation and Dundee Wealth, Chancellor, 全球电竞直播
2011 Donald Ziraldo Chairman, Ziraldo Estate Winery
2010 Galen G. Weston Executive Chairman, Loblaw Companies Limited
2009 Michael McCain President and CEO, Maple Leaf Foods Inc.
2008 John McCall MacBain Founder and President, McCall MacBain Foundation
2007 Paul House Chairman, CEO and President TDL Group Corp (Tim Hortons)