York U to confer honorary degrees on 12 remarkable Canadians at spring convocation


TORONTO, June 8, 2017 – York University will recognize the tremendous contributions of a dozen community and business leaders including Canada’s Governor General, a judge, journalists and scholars at this year’s spring convocation ceremonies. An inspiring Canadian athlete will also be recognized with an honorary degree.

“This year’s honorary degree recipients truly are a remarkable group of Canadians, who embody in every way the high public purpose of universities as well as the values that make Canada the country it is today,” said Mamdouh Shoukri, President and Vice-Chancellor of York University. “Through their professional contributions, their advocacy and volunteerism, they are involved in supporting and building their communities, engaging with the challenging questions of our time, and inspiring others to follow their important example.”

Convocation ceremonies will be held from Friday, June 16 to Saturday, June 24. A full schedule can be found at this link: York U spring 2017 convocation. All ceremonies will take place at the Convocation Pavilion, located at the Aviva Centre, 1 Shoreham Drive, on the west side of York University’s Keele campus (see MAP), with the exception of the Glendon ceremony, which will be held on the Glendon Campus, located at 2275 Bayview Avenue.

Here are the recipients in order of the Faculty ceremonies at which they will be honoured:

Karen Weiler − Eminent jurist
Honorary Doctor of Laws
Faculty of Health I – Friday, June 16, 10:30am
One of the most eminent judges in Canada, Karen Weiler (LL.B. ’67, LL.M. ’74) has dedicated her career to improving access to justice for litigants in need and to combating societal discrimination. She is a double graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School and was first appointed to the former District Court of Ontario in 1980 at the age of 35, making her the youngest person ever to have been appointed to the federal judiciary. From there she advanced to the Ontario High Court in 1989 followed by the Court of Appeal in 1992. Since 1995 she has also served as a Judge of the Court Martial Appeal Court. She has presided over most appeals heard in French at the Court of Appeal over the past 25 years and her work has led to the reform of several important laws relating to children and families as well as important equity initiatives.

William Fisch − York Region community advocate and public service leader
Honorary Doctor of Laws
Faculty of Health II and Faculty of Environmental Studies – Friday, June 16, 3:30pm
William (Bill) Fisch is a respected lawyer, and former city councillor and regional government chairperson.  As chairman and chief executive officer of the Regional Municipality of York from 1997 to 2014, he demonstrated steadfast commitment to enhancing the York Region community at a time when it had become Canada’s fastest-growing constituency. Fisch received his JD from Osgoode Hall Law School and practiced law in Thornhill before entering local politics.  He has advocated for the University’s interests by spearheading initiatives such as the new subway extension, and by lending instrumental support for the University’s proposal for a new Markham campus and the opening of the eponymous Bill Fisch Forest Stewardship and Education Centre, a living laboratory where vistors learn about forest ecosystems and natural resources.

Matt Galloway − Radio personality
Honorary Doctor of Laws
School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design and Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies I – Monday, June 19, 3:30pm
A staple voice at the CBC for more than 10 years, Matt Galloway (BA ’94) is host of CBC Radio One’s Metro Morning in Toronto and co-host of Podcast Playlist. One of Canada’s most respected radio personalities, he began his career as music director for CHRY-FM at York. He has also written for NOW Magazine and hosted CBC Toronto's Here and Now. His accolades include: Top Radio Personality in Toronto NOW Magazine for four consecutive years; Toronto Hero of 2011 by Torontoist; Excellence in Community Service Award in 2012 for addressing issues confronting diverse communities by the Intercultural Dialogue Institute; 2013  award for Diversity and Inclusion by the Tagore Anniversary Celebrations Committee of Toronto; Toronto’s 50 Most Influential People by Toronto Life magazine (2014-2016) and the African Canadian Achievement Award for Excellence in Media (2015).

Wanda MacNevin − Social worker, activist, author
Honorary Doctor of Laws
Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies II – Tuesday, June 20, 10:30am
For over 40 years Wanda MacNevin has been a leader, activist and author in the Jane-Finch community and has built crucial collaborations with York University. Her career in social work was nurtured by York’s Bridging Program for Women. A founding member of the Jane/Finch Community and Family Centre in 1976, she later developed the Women Moving Forward program for young women who had been teen mothers, established in 2005 with $1.234 million in foundation funding. As the first Community Health Worker for the Black Creek Community Health Centre, she developed programs and services for teen mothers and seniors. The author of two books, she is currently working on a book about the Jane-Finch community. Her interviews with people in the community can be found in the Toronto Public Library’s “Black Creek Living History Project.” She has received many honours including the Woman of the Year award from Jewish Women International, and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.

Michael Dan − Visionary social entrepreneur, philanthropist
Honorary Doctor of Laws
Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies III – Tuesday, June 20, 3:30pm
Dr. Michael Dan is a leading philanthropist, supporting human rights, peace in the Middle East, First Nations initiatives and local charities. His career spans the fields of neurosurgery, biotechnology and hydroelectric power. A former assistant professor of neurosurgery, he left medicine to become chief executive officer of Novopharm Biotech, a division of Novopharm Ltd, the generic drug company started by his father, Leslie. He is currently president of both Regulus Investments Inc. and Gemini Power Corp., a hydroelectric company that builds partnerships with First Nations communities. In 2002, he founded the Paloma Foundation to assist charities in the GTA. In 2015, Dr. Dan and his wife, Amira Bojadzija-Dan, made a donation to the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto to create the Waakebiness-Bryce Institute for Indigenous Health. A great supporter of York University, he has received many accolades including the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, the Order of Ontario, the Order of St. John, and the Order of Canada.

Hayley Wickenheiser, Celebrated elite athlete, author and motivational speaker
Honorary Doctor of Laws Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies IV – Wednesday, June 21, 10:30am
Considered one of the best female hockey players in the world, Hayley Wickenheiser is a five-time Olympic medalist and seven-time World Championship medalist. At 15, she became the youngest member chosen for the Canadian Women’s National Team, which she later led to six gold and one silver medal at the Women’s World Hockey Championships. Her Olympic career spans five Winter Olympics between 1998 and 2014. Twice named one of The Globe and Mail’s “Power 50” influencers in sport, her many accolades also include being named #20 on Sports Illustrated’s Top 25 Toughest Athletes in the World in 2008. She was appointed to the Order of Canada in 2011 and inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame in 2014. In addition to working with organizations such as JumpStart, KidSport, Project North and Right to Play, she provides mentoring opportunities for young athletes through The Canadian Tire Wickenheiser World Female Hockey Festival.

Steve Paikin, Journalist
Honorary Doctor of Laws
Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies V – Wednesday, June 21, 3:30pm
Engaging, informing and educating Canadians has been Steve Paikin’s purpose throughout his career as a broadcast journalist, author and filmmaker. He is best known as host of TVO’s flagship current affairs program, The Agenda with Steve Paikin, which explores social, political, cultural and economic matters, and broadens discussion on issues important to Ontarians. He joined TVO in 1992 after working at The Hamilton Spectator, CHFI radio station, and as Queen’s Park correspondent for CBC Television’s Toronto station. He has moderated three federal and three provincial election leaders’ debates and has authored several books about politicians, including one about Ontario’s 18th premier, Bill Davis. Paikin, who places high importance on education, is currently Chancellor of Laurentian University. He was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2013 and appointed to the Order of Ontario the following year.

William MacDonald Evans − President, Canadian Space Agency (1994-2002), public servant
Honorary Doctor of Laws
Lassonde School of Engineering and Faculty of Science – Thursday, June 22, 10:30am
William (Mac) MacDonald Evans is a distinguished senior federal public servant whose career spans over 30 years in the Canadian space program and includes extensive experience in research, project management, policy development, international relations and senior management in several federal departments. He was appointed Vice President of Operations for the newly formed Canadian Space Agency in 1989, and was president and CEO of PRECARN Associates Inc. from 1992 until his appointment as President of the CSA in 1994. During his tenure at the CSA, his leadership in the development of respected Canadian space policies led to the evolution of the CSA, the Astronaut Corps, RADARSAT, SCISAT and Canada’s presence on the International Space Station. Since retiring, Evans has been a consultant and remains an enthusiastic supporter of York’s Centre for Research in Earth and Space Science and space science programming. This year, he was appointed to the government’s Space Advisory Board.

His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston – Inspirational Governor General of Canada, legal scholar and university administrator
Honorary Doctor of Laws
Faculty of Education – Thursday, June 22, 3:30pm
The motto on His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston’s coat of arms reads Contemplare Meliora, meaning “to envision better things” − a sentiment clearly evidenced by his dedicated service as Canada’s current Governor General and as a professor and university administrator. After teaching law at Queen’s and the University of Toronto, he became dean of Western University’s law faculty in 1974. From 1979 to 1994 he served as principal and vice-chancellor of McGill University. In 1999 he became president and vice-chancellor of the University of Waterloo, a position he held until 2010 when he was appointed as the country’s 28th governor general. In that role, he has focused on strengthening the pillars of philanthropy and volunteerism, learning and innovation and families and children and launched new initiatives, including the Governor General’s Innovation Awards and My Giving Moment, a national initiative to encourage Canadians to give back to their communities. He is a Companion of the Order of Canada.

Bharat Masrani – Bank executive, York ambassador
Honorary Doctor of Laws
Schulich School of Business – Friday, June 23, 10:30am
Bharat Masrani (BBA ’78, MBA ’79), who graduated from the Schulich School of Business 38 years ago, is President and CEO of TD Bank Group. Of South Asian descent, he became the first member of a visible minority to ascend to the corner office of a major Canadian bank.  A champion of York University throughout the TD community, he returns to Schulich frequently as a guest speaker. His banking career with TD spans more than three decades of multi-faceted experience that includes retail, wholesale and wealth management. Masrani started his career with TD in 1987 as a Commercial Lending Trainee. Since then he has had various roles with TD in four countries, including India where in 1995 he set up the bank’s first offices in Mumbai. He was appointed President and CEO in November 2014. As part of Schulich’s 50th Anniversary celebrations last year, he was keynote speaker at CONNECT2016.

Cindy Blackstock – Academic, child advocate
Honorary Doctor of Laws
Osgoode Hall Law School – Friday, June 23, 3:30pm
A member of the Gitxsan First Nation, Cindy Blackstock is Executive Director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society and a Professor at McGill University School of Social Work.  She has over 30 years of social work experience in child protection and Indigenous children’s rights with a focus on documenting and addressing the systemic inequalities experienced by First Nations children, youth and families today. She engages the public, and particularly children, to learn about Canada’s history in ways that prepare them to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action. Blackstock is most well known for her role in a landmark 2016 Canadian Human Rights Tribunal decision, which found the Government of Canada’s flawed and inequitable provision of child welfare services and failure to ensure First Nations children could access all other government services on the same terms as other children, was discriminatory. In 2011, she was awarded the National Aboriginal Achievement Award (Public Policy), and was named an honorary witness to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

The Honourable Marion Boyd – Social justice advocate and political pioneer
Honorary Doctor of Laws
Glendon – Saturday, June 24, 2:30pm
Marion Boyd (BA ‘68) is a passionate advocate for the rights of marginalized community members and a well-respected public service leader. A graduate of York’s Glendon College, she began her career at York University as an assistant to the president and was the longtime executive director of the London Battered Women’s Advocacy Clinic (now the London Abused Women’s Centre) and president of the London Status of Women Action Group. First elected in 1990 as MPP of London Centre for the NDP, she held several cabinet appointments, serving as minister of education, minister of community and social services and minister responsible for women’s issues. In 1993 she was the first woman and non-lawyer to be appointed as attorney general. Since her time in politics, she has led a taskforce on the effects of domestic violence on women, and investigated the use of sharia law in Ontario family law arbitrations. She is currently a partner at the management consulting firm Boyd/Dunlop-Addley and Associates, Inc.

York University is known for championing new ways of thinking that drive teaching and research excellence. Our students receive the education they need to create big ideas that make an impact on the world. Meaningful and sometimes unexpected careers result from cross-discipline programming, innovative course design and diverse experiential learning opportunities. York students and graduates push limits, achieve goals and find solutions to the world’s most pressing social challenges, empowered by a strong community that opens minds. York U is an internationally recognized research university – our 11 faculties and 26 research centres have partnerships with 200+ leading universities worldwide. Located in Toronto, York is the third largest university in Canada, with a strong community of 53,000 students, 7,000 faculty and administrative staff, and more than 295,000 alumni. York U's fully bilingual Glendon campus is home to Southern Ontario's Centre of Excellence for French Language and Bilingual Postsecondary Education.

For more information:
Janice Walls, Media Relations, York University, 416-455-4710, wallsj@yorku.ca