Outstanding leaders to receive degrees

The UVic mace symbolizes the authority of the chancellor to confer degrees at convocation. Photo: UVic Photo Services.

Four inspirational citizens will receive an honorary degree—the university’s highest honour—at the upcoming spring Convocation ceremonies. Ceremonies will be webcast live and archived online.

Joseph Arvay, QC, Honorary Doctor of Laws  

Arvay profile photo

June 11 | 2:30 p.m.

Joseph Arvay’s advocacy—often on behalf of deeply disadvantaged members of society—has shaped the meaning and impact of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Arvay was lead counsel representing, pro bono, Gloria Taylor in the case of Carter v. Canada, which led to the landmark 2015 Supreme Court ruling that allows physician-assisted suicide in Canada. He led the legal team that represented Insite, the medically supervised injecting facility in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, when it won a unanimous Supreme Court of Canada decision allowing it to remain open after years of federal government opposition. Arvay’s other notable cases include his work as counsel in the case that struck down laws preventing same-sex marriage, and he represented an organization of sex trade workers in their successful attempt to overturn some of the criminal laws relating to prostitution.His most recent accomplishment was in having the BC Supreme Court strike down Canada’s laws allowing solitary confinement in federal prisons where he again acted pro bono.In a career that has been defined by his personal integrity, skill and humanity, Arvay has been consistently cited by Canadian Lawyer Magazineas one of the most influential members of the profession for his commitment to civil rights and social justice. He has been an architect of change in Canadian society.

Amb. Nicholas Kuhanga, Honorary Doctor of Education

Kuhanga profile photo

June 15 | 10:00 a.m.

Ambassador Nicholas Kuhanga is one of modern Africa’s leading educational pioneers, a political leader and diplomat. As a young man, Kuhanga was inspired by Julius Nyerere who, as the United Republic of Tanzania’s first president (from 1964-85) and a fellow teacher, identified the need for adult education in a country in which many had grown up during the colonial period without formal schooling. Kuhanga joined the University of Dar es Salaam and was a leader in the implementation of a network of regional learning centres across the country that could be accessed by anyone without previous schooling. He was also elected to Nyerere’s government, serving as a member of parliament from 1965-80. He held the posts of minister of manpower development and minister of education, during which time a campaign was launched to provide schools for all Tanzanian youth. In 1980, Kuhanga was named vice-chancellor of the University of Dar es Salaam and oversaw a decade of program expansion. Kuhanga then became the founding vice-chancellor of the Open University of Tanzania and he was an advisor to more than a dozen universities in Tanzania and Africa. He was named Tanzania’s ambassador to what is now known as the Democratic Republic of Congo from 1991-95. He is the father of eight children, one of whom resides in Victoria.

Sandra Richardson, Honorary Doctor of Laws

Richardson profile photo

June 14 | 2:30 p.m.

As CEO of the Victoria Foundation, Sandra Richardson exemplifies the meaning of leadership in community and social development. Since taking charge of the Victoria Foundation in 2001, Richardson has been instrumental in growing the foundation’s assets under administration from $20 million to $357 million. As a result, the foundation delivers approximately $1 million each month in grants to organizations that support community development in Victoria and BC. Since 2005, the Victoria Foundation has issued its annual Vital Signsreport on the quality of life in Victoria. The report is now relied upon by local governments, community groups, and charitable funders when they determine priorities and make funding allocations. More than 50 other community groups in Canada and internationally have developed similar publications based on Vital Signsand Richardson’s initiative. Other community programs developed under Richardson’s guidance include the Every Step Counts walking and running program for people who experience barriers related to housing or mental health, and the Smart and Caring physical literacy program for children. The programs have led to quality of life improvements for more than 5,000 participants and the initiatives have been adopted in communities across Canada. Richardson has been a key advisor and committee member for university-community engagement efforts at UVic.

Robert Waisman, Honorary Doctor of Laws

Waisman profile photo

June 13 | 2:30 p.m.

Robert Waisman was one of the “Boys of Buchenwald” before he was freed from the World War II concentration camp, eventually emigrating to a new life in Canada where he built a successful career and dedicates himself to Holocaust education. The youngest of six children, Waisman was born in 1931 in Skarszysko, Poland. At the age of 10, he was a slave labourer in a German munitions factory where a child’s hands were deemed useful in fixing jammed machinery. Waisman was sent to Buchenwald where he remained until April 11, 1945, when it was liberated by U.S. soldiers. Of his family, only he and his sister Leah survived. After moving to a group home in France, Waisman came to Canada in 1949. He continued his education, worked in accounting and later found success in business, first in Saskatoon and then Vancouver. He married, became the father of two, and is now a grandfather.He also became a community leader, philanthropist, a president of the Vancouver Holocaust Centre for Remembrance and Education, and an educator who shares his experiences of hate, racism and indifference with thousands of students each year. In recent years, Waisman was inducted as an Honorary Witness to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, where he met survivors of the residential schools and joined others in calling for the incorporation of the schools' history into the curriculum of BC schools.


In this story

Keywords: convocation, alumni, graduation

People: Joseph Arvay, Sandra Richardson, Nicholas Kuhanga, Robert Waisman, Peter Moss

Publication: The Ring

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