Biographical details of Dr. Vaira Vike-Freiberga
Professional career (1965-1999)
From 1965 to 1998 Vaira Vike-Freiberga was a professor at the Department of Psychology of the French-speaking University of Montreal. She taught psychopharmacology, psycholinguistics, scientific theories, experimental methods, language and cognitive processes. Her experimental research, supported by grants from the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), focused on memory processes and language, and the influence of drugs on cognitive processes. She has supervised the theses of many Master’s and Doctoral students.
At the same time she did scholarly research on semiotics, poetics and the structural analysis of computer-accessible texts from an oral tradition -- the Latvian folksongs (Dainas). Her research (jointly with her husband, informatics professor Imants Freibergs) was supported by grants from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). Together they published a book and a data base on the Latvian Sun-songs in 1988.
During this period she authored nine books and about 160 articles, essays or book chapters and has given over 250 speeches, allocutions and scientific communications in English, French or Latvian. Some articles have been translated into Swedish, Polish, Russian, German and Lithuanian. She gave numerous radio, TV and press interviews in various languages. Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga is a member of the Writers’ Union of Latvia (2004).
Since 1957, Dr. Vike-Freiberga has been actively engaged in community service, focusing on questions of Latvian identity and culture, and the political future of the Baltic States. She became a specialist of Latvian folklore and encouraged young Latvians to learn about their cultural heritage. She has been a lecturer, director and president of the Board of directors of the Latvian Cultural Heritage Seminars for university level participants (1965-85) and subsequently for families, in North and South America, Europe and Australia. A renowned public speaker, she was regularly invited to cultural and social events and published many articles on these questions in Latvian, English and French.
Administrative experience (until 1999)
Member of Council (1994-98) and President of the Academy I of the Royal Society of Canada (1998-99)
Member of the Killam Research Fellowships and Prizes Selection Committee (1995-98), appointed by the Canada Council
Member of the Science Council of Canada (1980-83) and Vice-president (1984-89), appointed by the Governor General of Canada; invited Consultant by the Commission of constitutional reform of the Brazilian Parliament (1989); member of a Canadian governmental consultative committee on the disposal of nuclear waste (1990-91, 1995-96)
Member of the Board of directors (1982-88) and President (1984-86) of the Association for the Advancement of Baltic Studies - AABS
Member of the Consultative committee on Mental Health Research, Health and Welfare Canada (1983-86)
Member and president of organising committees of various national and international symposia and conferences (1982-86)
Member of the Board and Executive Committee of the Canadian Federation for the Humanities (1980-82)
Appointed Canadian member and Chair of the Special Panel on Human Factors of the NATO Scientific programme in Brussels (1978-81)
Member of the Board of directors (1976-82) and President (1980-81) of the Canadian Psychological Association
Member of the Board of directors (1977-82) and President (1980-81) of the Social Science Federation of Canada
Member of the Post-doctoral Fellowship Selection Committee of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (1975-78)
Member of various committees at the University of Montreal (1965-98)
Prizes and honours (until 1999)
Elected full Member, Academy of Sciences of Latvia, 1999
Grand Medal of the Latvian Academy of Sciences for distinguished work on oral literature and Latvian folksongs, 1997
Pierre Chauveau Medal for distinguished work in the humanities, Royal Society of Canada, 1995
Officer of the Order of the Three Stars, Republic of Latvia, 1995
Killam Research Fellowship (Canada Council), 1993-95
Marcel-Vincent prize for distinguished achievement in the social sciences, ACFAS (Association canadienne-française pour l’avancement des sciences), 1992
Dr. habil. philol., Latvian Academy of Sciences, 1992
Doctor of Laws, honoris causa (LL.D.), Queen's University, Kingston, Canada, 1991
Elected Fellow of Academy I of the Royal Society of Canada, 1990
Elected Foreign Member, Academy of Sciences of Latvia, 1990
Prize in the social sciences of the World Association of Free Latvians (PBLA, Washington, D.C.) for distinguished work on the Latvian Dainas, 1989
Elected Fellow, Canadian Psychological Association, 1979
Prof. Anna Abele memorial prize (USA) for distinguished work in Latvian philology, jointly with Imants Freibergs, l979
Leave Fellowship, Canada Council, 1974-75
Presidency of the Republic of Latvia (since 1999)
On 17 June 1999, Prof. Vaira Vike-Freiberga was elected President of the Republic of Latvia by the Parliament (Saeima) and was sworn in on 8 July. In 2003 she was re-elected for a second term of four years with 88 votes out of 96.
She was named Special envoy to the Secretary General on the reform of the United Nations in 2005.
Member of the Council of Women World Leaders since 1999.
Powers exercised by the President
The power to name the Prime Minister (exercised five times so far).
The President is Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Latvia and names the Commander of the Armed Forces.
Legislative powers: The President initiated and submitted to Parliament the Law on the Institution of the Office of Ombudsman and the Law on State Awards and Decorations, which have both come into force. She has initiated several changes to the Latvian Criminal Code and has collaborated with parliamentary commissions in the drafting of many other laws. During her presidency she has initiated a total of nine legislative acts.
The right to veto: The possibility to return any law passed by the Parliament with a reasoned request for reconsideration. This veto has been exercised on 35 occasions, thus ensuring better quality legislation in such spheres as language, commerce, public organisations, elections, municipal budgets, the sale of alcoholic beverages, and many others.
The right to grant clemency to criminals. As Head of the Clemency Board, the President regularly examines requests for clemency (over 100 each year) and has reduced prison terms in dozens of cases.
The President heads the National Security Council, the Military Council, and the Commission on State Awards (until 2004).
A number of commissions operate under the auspices of the President: on strategic analysis, on the state language, on state awards and heraldry, the International Commission of Historians and the Commission on State Awards (since 2004).
The President meets regularly with the Prime Minister, Cabinet Ministers, mayors and officials of municipalities, heads of government departments and agencies, as well as members of civil society to focus on functional or actual problems and solutions under their jurisdiction.
The President regularly visits towns and villages to meet the population in person, to familiarise herself with their social situation and to listen to their concerns. She also receives many thousands of letters yearly from the inhabitants.
The President has been outspoken regarding a number of social causes (reform of the Justice system, children’s rights, women’s rights, prisoners’ rights, drug trafficking, corruption, etc.) and has agreed to patronise various non-governmental cultural, social, and sports organisations and events.
Participation and presentations at significant international events (among others)
Participation and invited address at the Tällberg Forum, Sweden, 2007
Keynote address at the Globe Forum, Stockholm, 2007
Hosting and participation at the informal gathering of eight EU presidents in Riga, 2007
Participation and invited address at the Symposium commemorating the 50th anniversary of the EU, Royal Palace, Brussels, 2007
Participation and keynote address at the Forum de Paris, “The European Union, 50 years on: which Europe for which Europeans?”, Paris, 2007
Participation in hosting and meetings of 26 NATO heads of state and government at the NATO Summit in Riga, 2006
Participation in the Ceremonies marking the 50th anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian revolution, Budapest, 23 October 2006
Participation and keynote address at the Forum 2000, “The dilemmas of global co-existence”, Prague, 2006
Participation at the sixth Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), Helsinki, 2006
Participation and invited address at the Tällberg Forum, Sweden, 2006
Invited address to the Joint meeting of the US Congress, Washington, USA, 17 June 2006
Participation at the EU-Latin America/Caribbean Summit of Heads of State, Vienna, Austria (2006), Guadalajara, Mexico (2004)
Participation at the informal gatherings of EU presidents, Dresden, Germany (2006), Helsinki, Finland (2005), Lisbon, Portugal (2003)
Participation at the Conference “The Sound of Europe” on the future of Europe, European values, identity and culture, Salzburg, Austria, 28 January 2006
Participation in the Ceremonies marking the 60th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Moscow, Russia, 9 May 2005
Invited presentation at the International Summit on Democracy, Terrorism and Security, Club of Madrid, Spain, 2005
Participation in the International Forum and Ceremony in Commemoration of the 60th Anniversary of the Liberation of the KL Auschwitz-Birkenau, Krakow and Oswiecim, Poland, 27 January 2005
Invited allocution at the l’Oreal/UNESCO Prize-giving Ceremony for Women in Science, Paris, 2004
Invited presentation at the International Forum on Preventing Genocide, Stockholm, 2004
Presentations at the United Nations World Summits on Information Society (WSIS) in Geneva, 2003, and in Tunis, 2005
Signing of the European Union Treaty of Accession in Athens, 2003
Invited address to the French Senate in Paris, 2003
Addresses at NATO Summits in Prague, 2002 and in Istanbul, 2004
Presentations at the General Assemblies of the United Nations in New York, 1999-2006
Invited presentations at the Women’s Service Club Zonta International in Stockholm and the Women Business Leaders in Helsinki, 2002, and in Riga, 2004
Invited presentation at the Conference on Democratic Transition and Consolidation, Club of Madrid, 2001
Invited presentation at the Ministerial Meeting of the United Nations Refugee Agency UNHCR on the Status of Refugees, Geneva, 2001
Presentations at the United Nations World Conference against Racism in Durban, South Africa, 2001
Participation to the European Economic Summit in Salzburg, Austria, 2001
Invited presentation at the Stockholm International Forum on the Holocaust, 2000
Invited presentation at the International Conference ‘Women and Democracy’, Iceland, 1999
Regularly invited participant to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, since 2000
Regularly invited participant to the annual meetings of the American Academy of Achievement in USA, UK and Ireland, since 2000.
Medals and awards (since 2000)
Global Women’s Leadership Award, Berlin, 2007
Science pavilion at the Lycée Al Khansaa in Casablanca, Morocco, named in honour of President Vaira Vike-Freiberga, 2007
Emperor Otto Prize for contribution in defining European identity and future, Magdeburg, Germany, 2007
American Jewish Committee (AJC) Madeline and Bruce Ramer Award for diplomatic excellence, Washington, USA, 2007
Cross of Honour of the Latvian Red Cross, Riga, 2007
Order 1st class of the Saint Martyr Jānis, archbishop of Riga and Latvia, 2007
UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) Ceres Medal 2007 for her contribution to social justice, moral values and democracy, Rome, Italy, 2007
J.W. Goethe University Medal and Walter Hallstein Prize, Frankfurt, Germany, 2006
Europa Prize 2006 of the Coudenhove-Kalergi Foundation, Pan-Europa Union, 2006
“Small Countries Prize” of the Batliner European Institute in Salzburg, Austria, 2006
Dutch bulb growers BulbRights BV new tulip species named “President Vaira”, Riga, 2006
Baltic Statesmanship Award of the U.S.-Baltic Foundation, Washington, DC, 2006
Hannah Arendt Prize for Political Thought, Bremen, Germany, 2005
Medal of the American Jewish Committee dedicated to ‘a passionate friend of humanity's abiding values’, New York, 2005
Medal of Freedom of the Baltic American Freedom League, Washington, DC, 2005
Forbes Executive Women’s Forum Trailblazer Award, New York, 2005
Award of Distinction of the Canadian Psychological Association, section on Women and Psychology, St.John’s, Newfoundland, 2004
Medal of the Foundation Edouard-Montpetit of the University of Montreal, 2004
Gold Medal of the Free University of Berlin, Germany, 2003
Grand Prize of Folklore, Ministry of Culture, Republic of Latvia, 2003
Gold Medal of Georgetown University, Washington, USA, 2002
Medal, Prize and Title of ‘Honorary Senator and Protector’ of the European Academy of Sciences and Arts, Salzburg, Austria, 2001
American Academy of Achievement Gold Plate Award, London, 2000
Orders of Merit, 1st class (since 1999)
Grand Collar of the Order of Makarios III, Republic of Cyprus, 2007
Grand Cordon of the Supreme Order of the Chrysanthemum, Empire of Japan, 2007
Order of Wissam al-Mohammadi, Exceptional Class with Grand Collar, Kingdom of Morocco, 2007
Grand Cordon of the Order of Leopold, Kingdom of Belgium, 2007
Grand Cross of the Civil and Military Order of Merit of Adolphe de Nassau, Grand-Duchy of Luxemburg, 2006
Dame Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath (GCB), United Kingdom, 2006
Officer of the National Order of Quebec, Canada, 2006
Order "Xirka Gieh ir-Repubblika", Republic of Malta, 2006
Order of the Princess St. Olga Equal-to-the-Apostles, 1st class, Patriarchy of Moscow and All Russia, 2006
Order of the Netherlands Lion, Grand Cross with Collar, Kingdom of Netherlands, 2006
Order of the Grand Prince Yaroslav the Wise, 1st class, Republic of Ukraine, 2006
Order of the White Star with Collar, Republic of Estonia, 2005
Commander of the Cross of Merit with Star, Republic of Poland, 2005
Royal Order of Seraphim with Collar, Kingdom of Sweden, 2005
Order of the White Double Cross, Republic of Slovakia, 2005
Collar of the Order of Isabel la Catolica, Kingdom of Spain, 2004
Grand Cross with Collar of the Order of Merit, Republic of Italy, 2004
National Order of Merit with Collar, Republic of Malta, 2004
Order of Stara Planina, Republic of Bulgaria, 2003
Grand Cross of the Order of Infante Dom Henrique with Grand Collar, Republic of Portugal, 2003
Grand Cross of Merit, Special Class, Federal Republic of Germany, 2003
Order of Merit of the White Eagle, Republic of Poland, 2003
Gold Medal of Freedom, Republic of Slovenia, 2002
Grand Cross of Merit with Collar, Republic of Romania, 2001
Commander of the Legion of Honour, 1st Class, Republic of France, 2001
Cross of the Order of Merit with Collar, Republic of Hungary, 2001
Grand Cross of the Order of White Rose with Collar, Republic of Finland, 2001
Order of Merit Vytautas Dizas, 1st Class with Collar, Republic of Lithuania, 2001
Grand Cross of the Order of the Redeemer, Republic of Greece, 2000
Grand Cross of the Order of St. Olav, Kingdom of Norway, 2000
Order of Merit Terra Mariana, 1st Class with Collar, Republic of Estonia, 2000
Commander with Grand-Cross and Collar of the Three-Star Order, Republic of Latvia, 1999
Honorary Doctorates (since 2000)
Dr.h.c. of Ganja State University, Ganja, Azerbaijan, September 2012
Dr.h.c. of Georgia University, Tbilisi, Georgia, October 2011
Dr.h.c. of York University, Toronto, Canada, June 2008
Dr.h.c. of the University of Toronto, Canada, June 2008
Dr.h.c. of Trinity College, University of Dublin, Ireland, 2007
Dr.h.c. of Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada, 2007
Dr.h.c. of the University of Southern Denmark, Odense, 2007
Dr.h.c. of the University of Liege, Belgium, 2006
Dr.h.c. of the University of Ottawa, Canada, 2006
Dr.h.c. of the State University in Yerevan, Armenia, 2005
Dr.h.c. of the State University in Tbilisi, Georgia, 2005
Dr.h.c. of the State University in Baku, Azerbaijan, 2005
Dr.h.c. of the Eurasian National University in Astana, Kazakhstan, 2004
Dr.sci.h.c. of McGill University in Montreal, Canada, 2002
Dr.h.c. of Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas, Lithuania, 2002
Dr.h.c. of the University of Latvia in Riga, 2000
Dr.h.c. of Sacred Letters, Victoria University in the University of Toronto, Canada, 2000
Doctor of Laws, honoris causa (LL.D.), Queen's University, Kingston, Canada, 1991
Books by Dr.Vaira Vike-Freiberga
VĪĶE-FREIBERGA, Vaira(2005) Saules balsi [Latvian Sun Song Melodies. Selected and commented by Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga. (In Latvian and English)]. Riga: Karogs. 151 p. ISBN 9984-505-82-0
VĪĶE-FREIBERGA, Vaira (2002). Trejādās saules: III. Meteoroloģiskā saule [The Threefold Sun, Vol. III: The Meteorological Sun]. Riga: Karogs. 174 p. ISBN 9984-505-71-5
VĪĶE-FREIBERGA, Vaira (1999). Trejādās saules: II. Hronoloģiskā saule [The Threefold Sun, Vol. II: The Chronological Sun]. Riga: Karogs. 296 p. ISBN 9984-505-52-9
VĪĶE-FREIBERGA, Vaira (1997). Trejādās saules: I. Kosmoloģiskā saule [The Threefold Sun,Vol. I: The Cosmological Sun]. (An analysis of the themes of content in Latvian folksongs about the sun). Riga: Karogs. 240 p. ISBN 9984-505-40-5
VĪĶE-FREIBERGA, Vaira (1993). Pret straumi[Against the current. Essays on Latvian identity]. Montreal: Helios. 256 p. ISBN 0-9693501-6-3
- 2nd edition (1995). Riga: Karogs. 256 p. ISBN 9984-505-25-1
VĪĶIS-FREIBERGS, Vaira (Ed.) (1989). Linguistics and Poetics of Latvian Folk Songs. Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press. 371 p. ISBN 0-7735-0661-6
VĪĶE-FREIBERGA, Vaira (1989). Dzintara kalnā [On the Amber Mountain]. Montreal: Helios. 193 p. ISBN 0-9693501-2-0
- Revised 2nd edition (1993). Riga: Zvaigzne. 179 p. (Printed in 10 000 copies). ISBN 5-405-00949-0
VĪĶIS-FREIBERGS, Vaira & FREIBERGS, Imants (1988). Saules dainas / Latvian Sun Songs. Montreal: Helios. 266 p. ISBN 0-9693501-0-4
- Revised 2nd edition (1991). Riga: Grāmata. 266 p. (Printed in 20 000 copies). ISBN 5-85800-001-0
VĪĶE-FREIBERGA, Vaira. Logique de la poésie: Structure et poétique des daïnas lettonnes. 299 p. Ed. William Blake and Co, 2007.
4 plus 4. Runas 1999-2007. [4 plus 4. Speeches 1999-2007] Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga (ISBN 978-9984-33-210-9). 646 lpp. Rīga: Pētergailis, 2007.
Saules balsi [Latvian Sun Song Melodies. Selected and commented by Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga. (In Latvian and English)] (ISBN 9984-505-82-0). 151 p. Rīga: Karogs, 2005.
Trejādās saules: III. Meteoroloģiskā saule. Siltā saule [The Threefold Sun, Vol. III: The Meteorological Sun. The Warm Sun] (ISBN 9984-505-71-5). 176 p. Rīga: Karogs, 2002.
Trejādās saules: II. Hronoloģiskā saule [The Threefold Sun, Vol. II: The Chronological Sun] (ISBN 9984-505-52-9). 296 p. Rīga: Karogs, 1999.
Trejādās saules: I. Kosmoloģiskā saule [The Threefold Sun,Vol. I: The Cosmological Sun]. (An analysis of the themes of content in Latvian folksongs about the sun) (ISBN 9984-505-40-5). 240 p. Rīga: Karogs, 1997.
Pret straumi [Against the current. Essays on Latvian identity 1968-1991]. (ISBN 0-9693501-6-3). 256 p. Helios: Montreal, 1993. 2nd edition. (ISBN 9984-505-25-1). Rīga: Karogs, 1995.
Dzintara kalnā [On the Amber Mountain. Essays on Latvian folk songs]. (ISBN 0-9693501-2-0) 193 p. Montreal: Helios, 1989. Revised 2nd edition (ISBN 5-405-00949-0). 179 p. Rīga: Zvaigzne, 1993.
Saules dainas. [Latvian Sun Songs], with Imants Freibergs. (ISBN 0-9693501-0-4). 266 p.Montreal: Helios, 1988. Revised 2nd edition (ISBN 5-85800-001-0). Rīga: Grāmata, 1991.
Linguistics and Poetics of Latvian Folk Songs. Vaira Vīķis-Freibergs (ed.) (ISBN 0-7735-0661-6). 371 p. Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1989.
La fréquence lexicale au Québec. Vaira Vikis-Freibergs. Montréal: Presses de l'Université de Montréal, 1974.
Biogrāfijas par Vairu Vīķi-Freibergu
Ausma Cimdiņa. Brīvības vārdā. (ISBN 9984-05-375-X). 245 p. Rīga: Jumava, 2001.
Russian translation, 2002.
English translation [In the Name of Freedom], 2003.
Spanish translation [En Nombre de la Libertad], 2007.
Māris Čaklais. Izaicinājums. [A Challenge: First woman president of Latvia Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga.] (ISBN 9984-33-062-1). 370 p. Rīga: Pētergailis, 2003.
Nadine Vitols-Dixon. Le Parcours d’une Vie: Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga, Présidente de Lettonie. [in French]. (ISBN 9984-33-141-5). 191 p. Rīga: Pētergailis, 2005.
Finnish translation [Meripihkahelmi povella Latvian presidentti Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga]. 215 p., 2006.
English translation [A Life’s Journey: Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga]. (ISBN 9984-33-174-1). 227 p., 2006.
Italian translation [Il percorso di una vita: Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga, Presidente della Lettonia]. (ISBN 978-88-89999-19-6). 223 p. Florence (Firenze): Emmebi Edizoni Firenze, 2007.