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Hamelin created the Centre for Northern Studies at the Université Laval in Québec and is a past President of the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières. He was also a member of the Northwest Territories Legislative Council.
Hamelin specializes in Northern and Aboriginal peoples studies. He coined several words concerning the North, like Nordicity and wrote several books and articles on the North (Canadian Nordicity/Nordicité Canadienne).
- 1962 - Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada
- 1972 - Léo-Pariseau Prize
- 1972 - Pierre Chauveau Medal
- 1974 - Officer of the Order of Canada
- 1975 - Governor General's Award
- 1976 - Royal Canadian Geographical Society's Massey Medal
- 1982 - Gloire de l'Escolle Medal
- 1982 - Molson Prize
- 1987 - Léon-Gérin Prize
- 1989 - Correspondent of Académie des Sciences Morales et Politiques (France)
- 1994 - Ordre des francophones d'Amérique
- 1998 - Grand officer of the National Order of Quebec
- 2014 - Hubert Reeves Award