Spring 2016 Honorary Degree Recipients

- Mike McNeney

One of Canada’s most successful Olympic athletes and four Indigenous leaders will receive honorary degrees from UVic during spring convocation ceremonies.

Clara Hughes, Honorary Doctor of Laws

June 14 | 10 a.m.

Clara Hughes is one of Canada’s most decorated Olympic athletes whose diverse athletic achievements are matched by her community service efforts.

Hughes excelled in cycling and speed skating. She won a pair of bronze medals for Canada at the 1996 Olympics and brought home four medals (gold, silver, two bronze) over the span of three winter Olympics. She is tied with Cindy Klassen as the Canadian with the most (six) Olympic medals.

While she has enjoyed almost unprecedented success in competing for her country on the Olympic stage, her ultimate goal has always been to motivate young people and inspire others through her actions.

Hughes is the national spokesperson for “Let’s Talk,” Bell Canada’s mental health awareness initiative. She has spoken of her own struggles with depression in order to help break down the stigma associated with mental illness.

Additionally, Hughes made significant personal contributions to the Right to Play programs for international humanitarian aid and she was Canada’s flag bearer at the opening of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

Mary Simon, Honorary Doctor of Laws

June 15 | 10 a.m.

Mary Simon has devoted her life to achieving social justice for the Inuit and advocating for her peoples’ participation in the environmental, economic, and political decision-making processes that affect their lives.

Her work, at the national and international level, has included her role as a senior Inuit negotiator during talks leading to the recognition of Aboriginal rights in the Constitution Act of 1982. She later served as policy co-director for the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples.

As ambassador to Denmark and ambassador of circumpolar affairs, she was instrumental in forming the eight-nation Arctic Council, including permanent Indigenous participation in the council’s diplomatic and policy solutions to issues facing the North.

During her term as president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (the national body representing Inuit in Canada) she developed and led the national Inuit Education Strategy. She is also the former chair of the National Committee on Inuit Education.

Dr. Richard Atleo, Honorary Doctor of Education

June 15 | 2:30 p.m.

Dr. Richard Atleo is a hereditary chief of the Ahousaht First Nation (also known by his Nuu-cha-nulth name Umeek) and an academic leader who has widely shared his wisdom and perspective on issues relating to the environment, education and Indigenous Peoples.

Atleo trained as an elementary school teacher and has been a champion of education, especially for Indigenous Peoples and regarding Indigenous communities. He helped to create the successful First Nations Studies Department at Vancouver Island University, where his son Shawn Atleo served as chancellor.

As co-chair (1993-95) of the BC government’s Scientific Panel for Sustainable Forest Practices in Clayoquot Sound, he contributed to five major reports that have served as models for bringing together science and traditional knowledge.

More recently, Atleo has held the positions of research liaison at the University of Manitoba, associate adjunct professor at the University of Victoria, board member of the Centre for Indigenous Environmental Resources in Winnipeg, and senior advisor to Ecotrust Canada.

William J. (Bill) Mussell, Honorary Doctor of Education

June 17 | 10 a.m.

One of Canada’s leading promoters of the health and wellness of Indigenous children, youth, families and communities, Bill Mussell is a member of the Skwah First Nation (Stó:lō) who has dedicated his life to addressing the impacts of colonization—especially the effects of residential schools—on the lives of Indigenous Peoples.

Mussell coined and promoted the concept of “warrior-caregiver” as a way to revitalize traditional roles of First Nations men so that positive contributions to family and community life are honoured and respected.

At the University of Victoria, Mussell has made substantial contributions to the Master of Education program in Indigenous Communities Counselling Psychology, part of his impact on the field of Indigenous mental health. Unique in Canada, the program reflects Mussell’s proven record of transformative educational leadership, which can be traced back to his input into the seminal 1972 paper “Indian Control of Indian Education.”

A scholar and a leader in consultation and policy development, Mussell’s multi-level contributions over the past 40 years have influenced generations of Indigenous and non-Indigenous leaders, policy-makers, educators and human service practitioners.

Frank Parnell, Honorary Doctor of Laws

June 17 | 2:30 p.m.

Frank Parnell is an outstanding advocate for economic self-reliance in B.C.’s north coast region, especially among Indigenous Peoples.

Parnell is a member of the Haida Nation and brings more than 35 years of executive management and economic development expertise to his position as President and CEO of TRICORP—the Tribal Resources Investment Corporation—a financial services company.

Parnell has led TRICORP since its inception in 1989, managing the entire corporate entity and determining its identity, systems, internal structure and operations. In that time, the Prince Rupert-based commercial lender has provided more than $28 million in financing to Indigenous entrepreneurs.

TRICORP also operates a skills training service that provides an integrated approach to Indigenous labour market programming focused on high-demand jobs. TRICORP and UVic’s Peter B. Gustavson School of Business have forged a strong bond and two programs have resulted from their collaboration: Northwest Aboriginal Canadian Entrepreneurs (NW-ACE) and Northwest Certificate in Aboriginal Management (NW-CAMP).

Parnell has also had a longstanding community leadership role (since 1980) in the All Native Basketball Tournament.


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Keywords: convocation

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