Chrystia Freeland, deputy prime minister of Canada, is Northeastern University’s 2023 graduate commencement speaker

headshot of Chrystia Freeland
Chrystia Freeland, deputy prime minister of Canada, is Northeastern University’s 2023 graduate commencement speaker.

Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s deputy prime minister and minister of finance, will be the keynote speaker at Northeastern University’s graduate commencement.

The ceremony will take place at 10 a.m. on Sunday, May 7, at historic Fenway Park in Boston.

Freeland is an influential leader who has dedicated her career to advancing democracy, human rights and multilateralism. Combining her core ideals with a capacity to get things done, she has been entrusted by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with a leadership role on some of his government’s most pressing issues.

“Decades from now, we will look back on this period in our collective history as an inflection point,” Freeland said. “In the years to come, our response will be shaped by talented, diverse and ambitious young people from around the world—at places like Northeastern—who are preparing to take on the serious challenges and remarkable opportunities ahead of us. I’m honored to have the opportunity to address the leaders of tomorrow, and I’m looking forward to sharing in what will be a very special day.”

Since the election of Canada’s Liberal government in 2015, Freeland has held the roles of minister of international trade and minister of foreign affairs, before being named deputy prime minister and minister of intergovernmental affairs in 2019. In 2020, she was appointed minister of finance—the first woman to hold that role.

“A champion for global cooperation, Chrystia Freeland’s commitment to public service spans countries, continents and cultures,” said Joseph E. Aoun, president of Northeastern University. “Her leadership has connected nations and her passion for change has empowered citizens. We are delighted to have deputy prime minister Freeland share her global vision with the Northeastern community and inspire us to serve causes larger than ourselves.”

As minister of international trade, Freeland oversaw the successful negotiation of Canada’s free trade agreement with the European Union, and as minister of foreign affairs, she led the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement with the United States and Mexico.

As deputy prime minister and minister of intergovernmental affairs, Freeland led Canada’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and since her appointment as minister of finance, she has introduced Canada’s first national system of affordable early learning and child care. She also delivered the largest investments in Canadian history to build the country’s clean economy.

During her time as minister of foreign affairs, Freeland earned international acclaim for her opposition to authoritarian regimes, having confronted world leaders on the rights of ethnic minorities and the importance of free elections. As deputy prime minister and minister of finance—and a proud Ukrainian-Canadian—she is at the forefront of the Canadian government’s opposition to Russia’s war against Ukraine.

In 2018, Freeland was recognized by Foreign Policy magazine as its diplomat of the year, as well as by the German nonprofit Atlantik-Brücke, who awarded her its Eric M. Warburg Award for achievements in strengthening transatlantic ties. In 2020, Freedom House presented her with its Mark Palmer Prize in recognition of her work in championing democracy and human rights.

The same qualities that have characterized her leadership in government enabled Freeland to build a successful first career as an esteemed journalist and author. 

Educated first at Harvard University and then as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, Freeland became a Ukraine-based correspondent for the Financial Times, The Washington Post and The Economist. She served as Moscow bureau chief, and later deputy editor and United States managing editor of the Financial Times, before becoming managing director and editor of consumer news for Thomson Reuters prior to her 2013 entry to politics.

Freeland’s second book, “Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else,” was an international best-seller and won the Lionel Gelber Prize and Canada’s National Business Book Award.

David Nordman is executive editor of Northeastern Global News. Follow him on Twitter @davenordman.