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

2020Bonnie Lysyk 13th Auditor General of Ontario
2019Michael Lee-ChinFounder and Chairman, Portland Holdings, and Chairman and CEO, Mandeville Private Client Inc.
2018Julia DeansCEO, Habitat for Humanity
2017Deepak Chopraformer President and CEO, Canada Post
2016Martine IrmanVice Chair, TD Securities and Senior Vice President, TD Bank Group
2015Rossana MagnottaFounder and CEO, Magnotta Winery
2014Len PennachettiPresident and Founding Partner, Cave Spring Cellars
2013Ned GoodmanFounder and CEO, Dundee Corporation and Dundee Wealth, Chancellor, Brock University
2011Donald ZiraldoChairman, Ziraldo Estate Winery
2010Galen G. WestonExecutive Chairman, Loblaw Companies Limited
2009Michael McCainPresident and CEO, Maple Leaf Foods Inc.
2008John McCall MacBainFounder and President, McCall MacBain Foundation
2007Paul HouseChairman, CEO and President TDL Group Corp (Tim Hortons)