Five receive honorary degrees

- Mike McNeney

Recognizing extraordinary work and the ability to inspire, the university will grant five honorary degrees during spring convocation ceremonies. The senate selects honorary degree recipients on the basis of their accomplishments in community, national or international service and the examples they set for graduates of UVic.

Podcasts of the Convocation addresses of honorary degree recipients are available as soon as possible after the ceremonies at

Grand Chief Edward John

Honorary Doctor of Laws (10 a.m., June 12)

Grand Chief Edward John (Akile Ch’oh) has dedicated himself to improving the lives of Indigenous people. He received his bachelor of arts degree in sociology from UVic in 1974 and completed his law degree at UBC. After establishing a law practice in Prince George and leading social assistance and education programs for members of the Tl’azt’en Nation, he founded Tanizul Timber, holder of the first and only tree farm licence awarded to a BC First Nation.

As tribal chief of the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council, he negotiated and signed the first child services agreement between the Carrier and Sekani First Nations and the BC government. He was the BC representative to the Assembly of First Nations constitutional working group, and he co-authored the 1991 BC Claims Task Force Report, the blueprint for treaty negotiations. He was appointed Grand Chief of the Tl’azt’en Nation in 1992.

Internationally, he represented the Assembly of First Nations in efforts to have the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples adopted by the UN 61st General Assembly. He attended 2009 sessions with Pope Benedict XVI on the role of the Catholic Church in Indian Residential Schools.

Dr. David Sanborn Scott

Honorary Doctor of Engineering (10 a.m., June 13)

Decades before climate change and modern energy needs came to wider attention, Dr. David Sanborn Scott laid out a framework for the analysis of energy and sustainability. His vision of the role of hydrogen and electricity in energy systems represented a paradigm shift that has influenced two generations of students, academics, policymakers and entrepreneurs.

He joined UVic in 1989 after 22 years at the University of Toronto and created the Institute for Integrated Energy Systems, focusing on fuel cell systems, cryofuel liquefaction and energy systems analysis. IESVic includes more than 60 UVic faculty, graduate students and staff. Currently vice-president (for the Americas) of the International Association for Hydrogen Energy, Scott holds a doctorate in mechanical engineering and astronautical sciences from Northwestern University in Chicago.

In 2006, Scott received the Jules Verne Award for “outstanding contributions to hydrogen physics, hydrogen energy, sociology and philosophy.” He is also the author of Smelling Land: The Hydrogen Defense Against Climate Catastrophe (2007). He was named the honorary chair of the 2012 World Hydrogen Energy Conference in Toronto, and he continues to write and lecture widely.

Dr. Henry Shimizu

Honorary Doctor of Laws (10 a.m., June 14)

Dr. Henry Shimizu was among the first Japanese Canadian medical doctors, enjoying a distinguished career as a clinical professor and plastic surgeon. In retirement he has provided outstanding voluntary service to a number of organizations, including the Japanese Canadian Redress Foundation, which he chaired from 1989 to 2001. He is also a gifted artist whose work has been exhibited across Canada.

Born in Prince Rupert, he and his family were interned 70 years ago in New Denver. After their release, the family moved to Edmonton where Dr. Shimizu earned his medical degree at the University of Alberta. In 1978, he was part of the first team in North America to perform a successful limb re-plantation.

He had completed a plastic surgery residency in the 1960s and it was there that he discovered his talent for art. In 1999, after a gathering with friends who had also been interned at New Denver, he decided to capture his impressions and memories on canvas. He produced 27 oil paintings that were shown at the Edmonton Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre in 2002—six decades after the Shimizu family left Prince Rupert.

Dr. Shimizu lives in Victoria and is the author and illustrator of Images of Internment: A Bitter-Sweet Memoir in Words and Images.

Anne Wheeler

Honorary Doctor of Letters (2:30 p.m., June 14)

For more than 30 years, Anne Wheeler has made authentic, highly acclaimed motion pictures that portray female strength of character. Her work is also known for its ability to combine Canadian historical events and powerful storytelling.

Wheeler began her career at the University of Alberta as part of Filmwest Associates, an independent production cooperative and ad-hoc film school. The group—including Wheeler and nine male colleagues—gained attention for its documentary work from the CBC and others. Great Grand Mother, a 30-minute docu-drama, won the American Film Festival Blue Ribbon in New York in 1977. Wheeler left the collective in the late 1970s to join the National Film Board.

In 1981 she wrote, directed and produced A War Story, about her father’s experiences after being taken prisoner by the Japanese in 1942. Her dramatic film debut came with 1983’s A Change of Heart and was followed in 1985 by Loyalties. Other credits include Bye Bye Blues, Cowboys Don’t Cry, and Better than Chocolate. Her 1991 TV adaptation of Margaret Laurence’s The Diviners won three Gemini Awards.

Jody Paterson

Honorary Doctor of Laws (2:30 p.m., June 15)

Jody Paterson’s journalism and social activism have brought together individuals and communities for a more just, involved and caring society. In more than 20 years as a reporter, editor, columnist and freelance writer with the Victoria Times Colonist, Paterson drew attention to issues of social justice, including homelessness, drug addiction and prostitution. Her compassion and incisiveness would invariably offer solutions or new ways of thinking about problems.

While her written words are powerful, her actions demonstrate a personal commitment to social justice. Always a friend to someone who badly needs one, she let a woman in need pitch a tent in her yard, she co-signed car loans and she supervised parental visits.

When she organized Project Connects, Patterson recruited a large team of volunteers and service agencies. The effort delivered food, backpacks and supplies for the homeless or at-risk and it gave a cross-section of service providers the chance to meet and compare notes.

As executive director of PEERS (Prostitutes Empowerment Education and Resource Society), she became a tireless advocate for the decriminalization of sex work and the creation of safe work places for sex workers.


In this story

Keywords: honorary degree, convocation

People: Edward John, David Sanborn Scott, Henry Shimizu, Anne Wheeler, Jody Paterson

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