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Former Prime Minister and President of Guyana receives Distinguished Engineering Alumni Award from UNB

Author: Kelly Anderson

Posted on May 24, 2023

Category: UNB Fredericton , UNB Saint John

Samuel Hinds (BScCHE’67, DSc’94), the Guyanese Ambassador to the U.S. and former prime minister and president of Guyana, visited his alma mater in Fredericton last week, where he was honoured with the Distinguished Engineering Alumni Award and inducted into the Engineering Wall of Fame at the University of New Brunswick (UNB).

Born and raised in Guyana, Ambassador Hinds came to UNB on a scholarship to study chemical engineering and says that his training in Canada was one of his formative experiences.

“I learned a lot from my professors and met many interesting people while I was at UNB. I made friends and broadened my knowledge not just in engineering but in business and political science,” Ambassador Hinds said.

After graduating in 1967 with a bachelor of science in chemical engineering from UNB, Ambassador Hinds returned to his home country to begin working in the aluminium industry as a process engineer.

When the ALCAN subsidiary he worked for was nationalized, he remained with the company and eventually advanced to the position of head of chemical engineering.

In 1990, he joined the political opposition in the country and was elected Prime Minister in 1992, serving in that role almost continuously until 2015 (he also briefly served as President of Guyana in 1997).

Over his career he was responsible for the mining sector in the country which relies on bauxite, gold, diamonds and aluminium. Under his leadership, Guyana became the world’s leading producer of bauxite.

With a strong commitment to democratic processes, social reform and personal freedom, Ambassador Hinds always pursued what is practical and realistic.

“I wish I could have done more. I hope I made good use of the opportunities in Guyana as a developing country which gained its independence in 1966, just one year before I returned,” he said.

“There were challenges and fragments of the population, and we had to come together as one. But that is a long process that occurs over a number of generations, centuries even.”

In 2021, he became the Guyanese Ambassador to the United States, the first time he and his wife Yvonne have lived outside of Guyana since 1967.

He is both optimistic and concerned for the future; as ambassador to the U.S., he will do his part to make the world a better place.

“I’m encouraged that we are on a course to becoming one world and one human race with all of our diversities of language, religions, cultures and histories. But we still have contradictions and contentions to deal with,” he said.

“I think we must move forward from the hurts of the past while not forgetting them. We must learn to contribute today wherever we are to improve our own situation and the situation of our world. Making a contribution is very important.”

Bridging the divides between cultures, religions and countries is important to Ambassador Hinds. A key influence on this strongly held value was his grandfather, “a person who lived in the countryside and often read to me from his favourite passages in the Bible.”

“I eventually became aware that in the same way the Bible was an important book for me, other religious books were similarly very important for other religions and peoples around the world. I grew up along with Hindus and Muslims in Guyana and we stayed very separate. I began realizing as a student that we must do better to get past that and come together as one people.”

The Distinguished Engineering Alumni Award recognizes a UNB engineering alumnus who has demonstrated core values of excellence, integrity and leadership and has attained prominence and achievements through his or her career. Ambassador Hinds was also awarded an honourary Doctorate of Science by UNB in 1994, and in 2011 he received Guyana's highest national award, the Order of Excellence.

Photo credit: Curtis Brewer