He was awarded an honorary doctorate of laws Thursday by his former cabinet colleague, Lloyd Axworthy, who is now the president of the university.
The others honoured were David Moroni, dancer and founder of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s professional division; best-selling science fiction writer Robert J. Sawyer; and Winnipeg philanthropists and entrepreneurs John and Bonnie Buhler.
Axworthy called them "five extraordinary people" who came from humble beginnings and ended up shaping their communities and leaving a lasting legacy.
Among the many achievements by Chretien, who was the Liberal prime minister from 1993 to 2003, the university noted he negotiated Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Moroni was principal dancer for the Royal Winnipeg Ballet in 1968 but gave up his performing career to take on the challenge of developing a professional level training school.
Sawyer, who was born in Ottawa, is one of a handful of writers to hold the triple crown of science fiction writing awards: the Hugo; the Nebula and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award.
The Buhlers run a farm equipment empire and have donated more than $60 million to health and education programs in Manitoba.