Media Releases

U of T to confer honorary degrees on 16 Canadian and global leaders

February 16, 2017

Toron­to, ON – The Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to will rec­og­nize 16 out­stand­ing indi­vid­u­als with hon­orary degrees from Indige­nous polit­i­cal and cul­tur­al lead­ers to an inter­na­tion­al­ly renowned pho­tog­ra­ph­er and a pio­neer­ing pair of evo­lu­tion­ary biol­o­gists.

The recip­i­ents include Inuk singer and song­writer Susan Aglukark, lead­ing Arab human rights defend­er Amal Basha, the “archae­ol­o­gist of black mem­o­ry” Robert A. Hill, and chief com­mis­sion­er of the Truth and Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion Com­mis­sion Mur­ray Sin­clair. They’ll receive their degrees at upcom­ing con­vo­ca­tion cer­e­monies and address a grad­u­at­ing class.

“The Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to is proud to hon­our this diverse group of tru­ly extra­or­di­nary lead­ers,” said Pres­i­dent Mer­ic Gertler. “They have demon­strat­ed excel­lence and tenac­i­ty in their fields, from music to law, busi­ness to health care, sci­ence to jour­nal­ism, and will be an inspir­ing reminder to our grad­u­ates and all in atten­dance of the pow­er of indi­vid­u­als to cre­ate real, mean­ing­ful change.”

The hon­orary degree recip­i­ents are:

Susan Aglukark – A cel­e­brat­ed Inuk singer and song­writer, she has bridged the worlds of tra­di­tion­al Inu­it cul­ture and the enter­tain­ment indus­try. Through­out her career, whether through song, vol­un­teer work or advo­ca­cy, Aglukark has tak­en the expe­ri­ences of her youth and the chal­lenges of north­ern com­mu­ni­ties and found ways to pro­mote change and heal­ing. (pho­to by Denise Grant Pho­tog­ra­phy)

Sir George Alleyne – An advo­cate for equi­ty in pub­lic health and devel­op­ment in the Caribbean, he was the first Caribbean per­son to be appoint­ed direc­tor of the Pan Amer­i­can Health Orga­ni­za­tion (PAHO). From 2003–2010, Alleyne served as the UN Secretary-General’s spe­cial envoy for HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean region. He is cur­rent­ly chan­cel­lor and emer­i­tus pro­fes­sor of the Uni­ver­si­ty of the West Indies and direc­tor emer­i­tus of PAHO.

Amal Basha – A lead­ing advo­cate for the rule of law, gen­der equal­i­ty, and human rights in the Arab world, she is the founder of the Sis­ters Arab Forum for Human Rights in Yemen. At great per­son­al risk, she has pressed the Yemeni gov­ern­ment to uphold its oblig­a­tions under inter­na­tion­al human­i­tar­i­an law, espe­cial­ly UN con­ven­tions against tor­ture and dis­crim­i­na­tion against women. She has also pro­mot­ed the Inter­na­tion­al Crim­i­nal Court as a mech­a­nism for pro­tect­ing the basic rights of vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple in the absence of a func­tion­ing state.

Edward Bur­tyn­sky – One of Canada’s most respect­ed pho­tog­ra­phers, his work depict­ing glob­al indus­tri­al land­scapes can be seen in more than 60 major muse­ums around the world, includ­ing the Muse­um of Mod­ern Art in New York. Ear­ly expo­sure to the sites and images of the Gen­er­al Motors plant in his home­town of St. Catharines, helped devel­op his pho­to­graph­ic work. His imagery explores the col­lec­tive human impact on the sur­face of the plan­et and is an inspec­tion of the sys­tems humans have imposed onto nat­ur­al land­scapes. (pho­to by Mar­tin Lip­man)

John M. Cas­sa­day – A dis­tin­guished Cana­di­an busi­ness leader and Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to alum­nus, he has trans­formed the Cana­di­an tele­vi­sion indus­try, first as pres­i­dent and CEO of CTV and lat­er as found­ing pres­i­dent and CEO of Corus Enter­tain­ment. In addi­tion, he has sig­nif­i­cant­ly shaped the Cana­di­an busi­ness land­scape through his exten­sive ser­vice as a cor­po­rate direc­tor and is known as one of Toronto’s most ded­i­cat­ed and effec­tive fundrais­ers, hav­ing co-chaired suc­cess­ful major fundrais­ing cam­paigns for the Rot­man School of Man­age­ment and St. Michael’s Hos­pi­tal.

Lar­ry Phillip (Phil) Fontaine – A coura­geous Indige­nous leader, he played a piv­otal role in bring­ing the issue of res­i­den­tial schools to nation­al atten­tion. While serv­ing as nation­al chief of the Assem­bly of First Nations, he suc­cess­ful­ly nego­ti­at­ed the Res­i­den­tial Schools Set­tle­ment Agree­ment, resolv­ing the largest class action in Cana­di­an his­to­ry and pro­vid­ing inno­v­a­tive ways to hon­our sur­vivors and pre­serve their sto­ries. In addi­tion to finan­cial com­pen­sa­tion, the agree­ment helped estab­lish the Truth and Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion Com­mis­sion. (pho­to by Fred Cat­troll pho­tos)

B. Rose­mary Grant & Peter Grant – Among the most sto­ried and accom­plished biol­o­gists of this gen­er­a­tion, their four decades of work on the evo­lu­tion of the Gala­pa­gos finch­es has become the most impor­tant empir­i­cal work on evo­lu­tion in nature since Dar­win. Rec­og­nized through­out the sci­en­tif­ic com­mu­ni­ty, the pro­fes­sors emer­i­ti at Prince­ton Uni­ver­si­ty were award­ed the Kyoto Prize in 2009 for their remark­able con­tri­bu­tions to the sci­ences. Togeth­er, they dis­cov­ered that evo­lu­tion by nat­ur­al selec­tion can be seen with­in one’s life­time, prov­ing one of Darwin’s the­o­ries incor­rect.

Robert A. Hill – Apt­ly referred to as the “archae­ol­o­gist of black mem­o­ry,” this U of T alum­nus is the world’s lead­ing author­i­ty on the glob­al influ­ence and intel­lec­tu­al cur­rents of Pan-African­ism in the 20th cen­tu­ry. Hill, a pro­fes­sor emer­i­tus at UCLA, has amassed a cru­cial archive of Cyril Brigg’s pio­neer­ing New Negro jour­nal, The Cru­sad­er, and the man­u­script of L.L.R. James’ unpub­lished mas­ter­piece, Amer­i­can Civ­i­liza­tion. As edi­tor-in-chief of the Mar­cus Gar­vey and Uni­ver­sal Negro Improve­ment Asso­ci­a­tion Papers, he has pub­lished 14 vol­umes to date on the mass move­ment inspired by the Jamaican activist.

Cather­ine Lacav­era – A glob­al­ly rec­og­nized leader in the field of intel­lec­tu­al prop­er­ty law, she has led a team of lawyers in suc­cess­ful­ly defend­ing more than a thou­sand patent and oth­er glob­al intel­lec­tu­al prop­er­ty claims as direc­tor of IP and lit­i­ga­tion for Google Inc. Lacav­er­a’s work has affirmed the legal­i­ty and ensured the con­tin­ued avail­abil­i­ty of a free and open Inter­net, user-gen­er­at­ed con­tent plat­forms, con­tent stream­ing and many oth­er inno­v­a­tive tech­nolo­gies. She is a three-time grad­u­ate of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to, serves on the advi­so­ry board for U of T’s depart­ment of elec­tri­cal and com­put­er engi­neer­ing and is active­ly involved with The Entre­pre­neur­ship Hatch­ery with­in the Fac­ul­ty of Applied Sci­ence & Engi­neer­ing.

Mar­garet O. MacMil­lan – A dis­tin­guished his­to­ri­an, she is renowned both for her aca­d­e­m­ic work and as a pub­lic intel­lec­tu­al. She is best known for her award-win­ning book, Paris 1919: Six Months that Changed the World, which exam­ined the diplo­mat­ic after­math of the First World War. Her most recent book is History’s Peo­ple: Per­son­al­i­ty and His­to­ry. She is cur­rent­ly war­den of St. Antony’s Col­lege and a pro­fes­sor of inter­na­tion­al his­to­ry, Uni­ver­si­ty of Oxford (she is on leave from U of T’s depart­ment of his­to­ry).  She is also a grad­u­ate and for­mer provost of Trin­i­ty Col­lege.

Peter Mans­bridge – As chief cor­re­spon­dent for CBC News, anchor of The Nation­al, and host of Mans­bridge: One on One, he has had an extra­or­di­nary impact on Cana­di­an pol­i­tics, cul­ture and soci­ety. Mans­bridge has announced that after anchor­ing Cana­da Day cov­er­age this year, he will retire. Through his career, he has helped fos­ter an informed, enlight­ened, crit­i­cal­ly intel­li­gent and expan­sive nation­al con­ver­sa­tion. He has also been a reas­sur­ing and wel­come pres­ence for gen­er­a­tions of Cana­di­ans. In par­tic­u­lar, at times of nation­al cel­e­bra­tion and cri­sis, he is a trust­ed and author­i­ta­tive voice. (pho­to cour­tesy of CBC)

Arthur B. McDon­ald – Co-win­ner of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics, he has played a piv­otal glob­al role in advanc­ing the field of par­ti­cle astro­physics. The Queen’s Uni­ver­si­ty pro­fes­sor has made out­stand­ing con­tri­bu­tions to mea­sur­ing the prop­er­ties of basic neu­tri­nos (sub­atom­ic par­ti­cles con­sid­ered the basic build­ing blocks of the uni­verse), as well as solar mod­els, which have sig­nif­i­cant impli­ca­tions for our under­stand­ing of the uni­verse and its devel­op­ment. He is direc­tor of the Sud­bury Neu­tri­no Obser­va­to­ry and asso­ciate direc­tor of SNOLAB, an under­ground sci­ence lab­o­ra­to­ry near that north­ern Ontario city.

André Picard – A best­selling author and a Cana­di­an health-care advo­cate, he is best known for his award-win­ning work as a reporter and colum­nist for The Globe and Mail, where he has been a staff writer since 1987. Picard’s writ­ing on impor­tant health issues, from the HIV/AIDS cri­sis in the 1980s to today’s nurs­ing short­age, has tran­scend­ed dai­ly jour­nal­ism to take a wider and longer term view of key issues in health pol­i­cy, ele­vat­ing debates about health care and relat­ed pol­i­cy issues local­ly, nation­al­ly, and glob­al­ly.

Ree­ta Roy – A com­pas­sion­ate anti-pover­ty advo­cate, she has devot­ed her career to break­ing down bar­ri­ers and improv­ing the lives of eco­nom­i­cal­ly dis­ad­van­taged com­mu­ni­ties across Africa, par­tic­u­lar­ly of women and girls, through her lead­er­ship of pub­lic and pri­vate foun­da­tions. Since 2008, Roy has been Pres­i­dent and CEO of The Mas­ter­Card Foun­da­tion. Under her lead­er­ship, the Foun­da­tion cre­at­ed the $800-mil­lion Mas­ter­Card Foun­da­tion Schol­ars Pro­gram, which part­ners with over 20 edu­ca­tion­al insti­tu­tions around the world, includ­ing U of T, to pro­vide schol­ar­ships to enable qual­i­fied stu­dents from Sub-Saha­ran Africa to attend uni­ver­si­ty.

Mur­ray Sin­clair – As chief com­mis­sion­er of the Truth and Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion Com­mis­sion, he par­tic­i­pat­ed in hun­dreds of hear­ings across Cana­da and worked tire­less­ly to ensure that sur­vivors of the Indi­an Res­i­den­tial Schools had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to tes­ti­fy. The report and its 94 rec­om­men­da­tions have sparked a major re-exam­i­na­tion of how Cana­di­ans see them­selves and pro­vide clear guide­lines on the steps that must be tak­en to ade­quate­ly address the debt to the Indige­nous peo­ples. Sin­clair is also a Cana­di­an sen­a­tor and served as co-chair of the Abo­rig­i­nal Jus­tice Inquiry in Man­i­to­ba from 1988 to 1991.


For more infor­ma­tion:

Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to Media Rela­tions
Tel: 416–978-0100