Eloise Spitzer awarded Honorary Doctor of Laws

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Eloise Spitzer was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws from the University of Victoria during the spring convocation ceremonies on June 12, 2024. This honor recognizes Spitzer’s extensive contributions to the legal field as a mentor, educator and public servant whose career has been dedicated to community engagement and social justice.

Spitzer’s first work at UVic was at The Law Centre, where she started in 1980 as one of the staff lawyers. Then, in 2004 she worked to enhance experiential learning at UVic Law, beginning as the school’s Cooperative Education Coordinator. In addition to teaching several courses focusing on topics for cooperative education students, she was essential in creating opportunities for student placements in the private, public and non-profit sectors. Her work to help students create connections in the legal community through diverse placements and experiences has helped shape the UVic Law co-op into the unique, comprehensive program it is today.

Spitzer has long been a strong advocate for Indigenous students and was a faculty leader in the development and implementation of the first ever Akitsiraq Law School partnership with the UVic Faculty of Law.  Spitzer more recently engaged with Inuit education in the North through programming two legal skills sessions held in Iqaluit, facilitating a second cohort of Inuit students to access legal education in the North.

In 2007, Spitzer collaborated with the School of Business to develop the Aboriginal Economic Development Chair Symposium, now the National Consortium for Indigenous Economic Development. Just one example of her early efforts to broaden the public discourse on reconciliation, the symposium featured all-Indigenous panels of nationally recognized speakers and business leaders to focus on eliminating barriers to economic development.

Chancellor Marion Buller, President Kevin Hall and Honorary Doctor of Laws recipient Eloise Spitzer, pictured at UVic's 2024 Convocation Ceremonies.  

Throughout her wide-ranging career, Spitzer has made a significant impact through her support of a number of important causes, including feminist, Indigenous, environmental and cultural. As a founding member of the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF), Spitzer played a pivotal role in advancing women’s rights. LEAF has been instrumental in shaping legal discourse through litigation, education, and advocacy, and in 2009 Spitzer was honored with the first-ever LEAF Lifetime Achievement Award. Throughout her career she has also championed legal aid, ensuring that all individuals, regardless of income, could access legal representation.

Spitzer’s career has spanned both British Columbia and the Yukon. As the first woman Cabinet Secretary and Deputy Minister in the Premier’s Office in both regions, she practiced law and worked politically with Indigenous Peoples in the North. Spitzer has been a long-time mentor of Northern and Indigenous youth, and is described by her peers as someone dedicated to “mentoring by example”. Countless students have been impacted by her support, including Indigenous students travelling far from home who have lived in Spitzer’s suite while attending UVic Law. Creating spaces that are nurturing and hospitable to homesickness, Spitzer is steadfast in her support and has encouraged so many to pursue careers in which their talents could be put to use. 

As a mentor, educator, and public servant, she embodies the values of community engagement and social justice. Her commitment to fostering an inclusive legal education emphasizes the importance of diverse perspectives in shaping the legal profession. Decades of students have benefited from Spitzer’s capacity to see the transformative possibilities in each moment, and she continues to encourage others to reach their personal goals through mentorship, material support and connectivity.


Learn more about Eloise Spitzer:

Three honorary degrees at spring 2024 convocation – UVic News

Nature educator, retired lawyer, medievalist to receive honorary UVic degrees – Times Colonist

UVic recognizes outstanding contributions with three honorary degrees – Victoria News