Inspiring Choices For Honorary Degrees

The University of Victoria will confer five honorary degrees during spring convocation ceremonies, June 11 – 15 in the University Centre Farquhar Auditorium. The recipients are selected from nominations to the university senate and are chosen for their extraordinary achievements and their ability to inspire graduates.

This spring’s honorands are Grand Chief Edward John, Dr. David Sanborn Scott, Anne Wheeler, Dr. Henry Shimizu and Jody Patterson. Here are brief biographies along with the schedule of honorary degree presentations:

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 B.C. 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 B.C. government. He was the B.C. representative to the Assembly of First Nations constitutional working group, and he co-authored the 1991 B.C. Claims Task Force Report, the blueprint for treaty negotiations. He was appointed Grand Chief of the Tl’azt’en Nation in 1992.

Dr. David Sanborn Scott
Honorary Doctor of Engineering (10 a.m., June 13)

Decades before climate change and modern energy needs came to the 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, Dr. Scott holds a doctorate in mechanical engineering and astronautical sciences from Northwestern University in Chicago.

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. A gifted artist, Dr. Shimizu’s work has been shown 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. 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.

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.

She organized Project Connects, recruiting 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.

Previous honorary degree recipients are listed at

Note: Media members are welcome to attend all UVic Convocation Ceremonies. An audio feed is available. Please plan to arrive at least 15 minutes before the start of the ceremony. The ceremonies are also webcast at

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Media contacts

Mike McNeney (Alumni Communications) at 250-721-7642 or

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Keywords: convocation, award

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

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