Brock honours five distinguished Canadians at Convocation

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Brock honours five distinguished Canadians at Convocation

Published on June 02 2011

Brock University will bestow upon five distinguished Canadians honorary degrees at this year’s Spring Convocation, which takes place during seven ceremonies over four days, from Wednesday, June 9 to Saturday, June 12.

This year, Brock takes pride in awarding honorary degrees to Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, British Columbia’s Legislative Representative for Children and Youth; Wilma Morrison, local historian, curator, advocate and educator of black history in Niagara; Val Fleming, one of Niagara’s most distinguished and well-known citizens; James Stewart, author, musician and professor emeritus of mathematics; and Brigadier-General Hilary Jaeger, OMM, MSM, CD.

“Brock is delighted to recognize these exceptional individuals for their leadership, innovation and distinguished contributions to society,” says President Jack Lightstone. “Their outstanding achievements locally, nationally and internationally mirror the values and vision of our university — to enhance the lives of the communities around us and to contribute to the betterment of society.”

All ceremonies will be held in the Walker Complex at the west end of campus, in the Ian D. Beddis gymnasium. An outdoor reception for graduates, family members and other special guests will be held after each ceremony.

Tickets are not required. All guests are welcome at the Convocation ceremonies.

The five honorary degree presentations will proceed as follows:

Thursday, June 10, 10 a.m.
An honorary degree will be presented to Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, British Columbia’s Legislative Representative for Children and Youth:

Mary Ellen Turpel-LafondBrock University is recognizing Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond for her extraordinary humanitarian and public contributions to fostering awareness and understanding of the challenges and needs affecting vulnerable children in Canada.

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond was appointed British Columbia’s first Representative for Children and Youth in November 2006. The Representative is an Independent Officer of the Legislature.

Turpel-Lafond is on leave from the Saskatchewan Provincial Court, where she was the Administrative Judge for Saskatoon. She was the first Aboriginal woman to be appointed to the Saskatchewan bench in 1998, and was actively involved in projects relating to access to justice, judicial independence, and public outreach.

She has also worked as a criminal law judge in youth and adult courts, with an emphasis on developing partnerships to better serve the needs of young people in the justice system, particularly sexually exploited children and youth, and children and youth with disabilities, such as those who suffer from fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

Turpel-Lafond was a tenured law professor at Dalhousie University Faculty of Law, and taught law at the University of Toronto, the University of Notre Dame and other universities. She has been a visiting professor at University of British Columbia and University of Victoria law schools.

She holds a doctorate of law from Harvard Law School, a master's degree in international law from Cambridge University, a law degree from Osgoode Hall, and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Carleton University. She also holds a certificate in the international and comparative law of human rights from the University of Strasbourg in France. She was also awarded an honorary doctorate degree from B.C.’s Thompson Rivers University in 2009.

In 2007, the Indigenous Bar Association awarded her the distinction of ‘Indigenous Peoples’ Counsel’. As well, Time Magazine has twice bestowed honours upon Turpel-Lafond, naming her one of the ‘100 Global Leaders of Tomorrow’ in 1994, and one of the ‘Top 20 Canadian Leaders for the 21st Century’ in 1999.

In November 2009, Turpel-Lafond was awarded the Bill McFarland Award from the Parent Support Services Society of B.C. This award recognizes her outstanding commitment to the prevention of child abuse and her many efforts, as B.C.’s Representative for Children and Youth and previously as a judge and a lawyer, through which she has made a lasting mark in child welfare.

A member of the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation, she is active in her First Nations community. In 2005, she published a book on the history of the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation that was short-listed for a Saskatchewan Book Award.

Thursday, June 10, 2 p.m.
An honorary degree will be presented to Wilma Morrison, local historian, curator, advocate and educator of black history in Niagara:

Wilma MorrisonBrock University is recognizing Wilma Morrison for her tireless efforts in promoting and preserving black history and its connections to the Underground Railroad in Niagara and Canada.

Wilma Morrison is a local historian, curator and volunteer who plays a vital role in keeping alive the history of black people in the Niagara region. She is a living cultural and historical resource who has dedicated her life to keeping local black history alive for the benefit of all.

As one of her honorary degree supporters notes, “She is living testament to the transcendent spirit of those who endured racial segregation in all its forms in Canada.”

The 80-year-old Niagara Falls, Ont.-resident is curator of the Norval Johnson Heritage Library in Niagara Falls, Ont., which contains more than 1,200 books related to the history of Black communities in Canada, the United States, the Caribbean, Africa and England. Morrison volunteers at the Library most days of the week from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., which she and a group of volunteers opened in March 1991.

Morrison is also custodian of the historic 1836 Niagara Falls Black Methodist Episcopal Church in Niagara Falls, one of the last reminders of a black presence in Niagara that stretches back more than 200 years. She is founder and past president of the Niagara Black Historical Association and was also instrumental in saving the Nathanial Dett Chapel from demolition. The Chapel, built in 1836 by fugitive slaves in Niagara Falls, Ont., was designated a National Historic Site in 2001.

Morrison is a founding member of the Brock/Niagara African Renaissance Group, which is a group of Brock faculty, staff and students, and community members, whose aim to is to enliven community and university research alliances and contribute to the ongoing cultural development of African-Canadian heritage at Brock University and in Niagara. Over the years, she has been actively involved in the annual planning of African Heritage Month events at Brock and she has hosted numerous student groups at the Nathaniel Dett Chapel.

She is also active in the community, telling her peoples’ story to anyone willing to listen — schools, service organizations, and visiting tour groups. She is fond of saying she will “continue raising awareness about black history until her health card runs out.”

Morrison has received numerous accolades for her committed and passionate volunteer work. These include the Paul Harris Rotary Club Award, 1997; the George Siebel Award for the Preservation of Black History in Niagara, 2001; and the Ministry of Culture and Citizenship’s Outstanding Award for Volunteerism in Ontario, 2001.

Friday, June 11, 10 a.m.
An honorary degree will be presented to Val Fleming:

Val FlemingBrock University is recognizing Val Fleming for her distinguished public contributions to Niagara and for her dedicated service to the growth and development of Brock University.

Val Fleming is one of Niagara’s most distinguished and well-known citizens.

From 1950 to 1990, she and her husband Art owned and operated Fleming Chick Hatchery in Beamsville, Ont. Established in 1923, Val and her husband grew the business into one of the largest and most successful operations in Ontario. A successful businesswoman in her own right, Fleming is also known for her many contributions to community organizations and causes throughout Niagara as a volunteer and benefactor.

Fleming was a board member of the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra for more than 20 years and received an Ontario Volunteer Service Award for her work with the group. She managed the Hamilton Youth Orchestra for eight years, was a board member of the Shaw Festival, the Lincoln History Club and Lincoln Light Opera Society, and is a current member of the Rodman Hall Art Centre Advisory Committee. She was also a board member of the Association of Canadian Orchestras and the Ontario Federation of Symphony Orchestras.

Fleming is a former member of the Brock University Board of Trustees (1998-2006), and is a long-time supporter of the school. She has represented the university on many occasions, speaking publicly in support of the institution and providing, in her quiet and effective way, advice and direction concerning its future.

Fleming is also a Brock graduate (BA, Geography, ‘72). She earned her degree as a mature part-time student over seven years, while raising five children and operating and growing their family-owned business. When she began her studies, Brock was just two years old and classes were held in an old refrigeration plant on Glenridge Avenue, in St. Catharines.

In 1980, she and her husband established The Art and Val Fleming Foundation, a private family foundation that supports charitable organizations and community projects throughout Niagara. They made a major donation to Brock University’s Good, Better, Brock capital campaign to build the Art and Val Fleming Commons, part of the Academic South building.

Fleming and her husband are also extremely active with their church. And she swims up to a half-mile every day and also has a world-class collection of Irish Belleek porcelain.

Fleming is a shining example of what it is possible to achieve through diligence and hard work. She has shown great strength, compassion and determination in raising her family, completing her education, running a successful business, supporting the arts, and giving generously to her community. These incredible accomplishments are grounded in advice that she is fond of sharing with friends and family, “Do your best every day and take it one day at a time.”

Friday, June 11, 10 a.m.
An honorary degree will be presented to Dr. James Stewart, author, musician and professor emeritus of mathematics:

James StewartBrock University is recognizing Dr. James Stewart for his outstanding contributions to mathematics education, architecture and music.

James Stewart is first and foremost a mathematician, but he is also a best-selling author, and award-winning professor, a renowned public lecturer, an accomplished concert violinist, philanthropist and lover of architecture.

He received his MS from Stanford University and a PhD from the University of Toronto. After two years as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of London, he returned to Canada to become a professor of mathematics at McMaster University. His research has been in harmonic analysis and functional analysis.

Stewart’s name is synonymous with mathematics education as a result of authoring and co-authoring more than 20 textbooks. His books include a series of high school textbooks, college algebra and precalculus textbooks, as well as a best-selling textbook Calculus first published in 1987. This textbook has gone on to outsell all other calculus textbooks in North America combined. The popularity of his calculus textbook is evident in its inclusion and influence on university calculus courses throughout North America. His books have been translated into Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, Korean, Chinese, Greek and Indonesian.

A talented violinist, Stewart was concertmaster of the McMaster Symphony Orchestra for many years and played professionally in the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra. Having explored the connections between music and mathematics, Stewart has given more than 20 talks worldwide on mathematics and music and is planning to write a book that attempts to explain why mathematicians tend to be musical. The ( ò ) symbol on his calculus textbooks represents both the integral sign from calculus and the sound hole of the violin.

Stewart lives in The Integral House — his home in Toronto designed by Shim-Sutcliffe Architects with a great deal of his input. The house is entirely made of curves since that is what calculus studies. The result is a stunning architectural achievement described by Glenn D. Lowry, Director of the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York City, as “one of the most important private houses built in North America in a long time.” The Integral House is also a performance space with a 3,000-square-foot concert hall, where Stewart hosts performances and recitals, including music he has commissioned from Canadian composers.

Stewart was named a Fellow of the Fields Institute in 2002 and was awarded an honorary doctorate in 2003 by McMaster University. The library of the Fields Institute is named after him and the James Stewart Mathematics Centre at McMaster was opened in October 2003.

Friday, June 11, 2 p.m.
An honorary degree will be presented to Brigadier-General Hilary Jaeger, OMM, MSM, CD:

Hilary JaegerBrock University is recognizing Brigadier-General Hilary Jaeger for a lifetime of medical and health security achievements and her decisive and influential action towards improving the health and well-being of others.

Born in England in 1959, Jaeger spent her early school years in Scotland, Quebec, and New Brunswick. Her undergraduate studies in mathematics and engineering provided a good basis for the study of medicine, and she received her MD from the University of Toronto in 1986. A Reservist with the West Nova Scotia Regiment since the age of 17, she transferred to the Regular Force while a medical student.

Jaeger has served with five different land force units: 1, 2, and 4 Field Ambulance, and 1 and 4 Service Battalion. Her appointments included Unit Medical Officer, Treatment Platoon Commander, Officer Commanding Medical Company, Deputy Commanding Officer, and Commanding Officer.

Jaeger served as the Senior Medical Officer and Officer Commanding the National Support Element in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina during the initial deployment of the United Nations mission in the former Yugoslavia in 1992. Two years later, she returned to Bosnia in command of the Forward Surgical Team. While Commanding Officer of 2 Field Ambulance, she had the privilege of leading the unit in support of the 1997 Manitoba flood and the 1998 ice storm.

Having completed all levels of Canadian professional military education, Jaeger is proud to have been the first Medical Branch officer posted to teach at the Canadian Land Forces Command and Staff College, also known as “Foxhole U”, in Kingston, Ont.

In 2000, Jaeger was promoted colonel and given responsibility for national planning and co-ordination of medical operations — a real challenge during the aftermath of 9/11 and the anthrax letters — followed by a year as the medical advisor to the Chief of the Land Staff. In 2004 she was promoted to her present rank and appointed Surgeon General. In 2007 she took over additional duties as Commander of the Canadian Forces Health Services Group and Director General Health Services.

Since October 2009, Jaeger has been deployed to International Security Assistance Force headquarters in Kabul overseeing medical support to the mission in Afghanistan.

Jaeger is a major contributor to the Jaeger Family Scholarship for Women at Brock University. She is married to Brigadier-General Christopher Thurrott; it may be a ‘first’ for the Canadian Forces to have two Brigadier Generals married to each other. Her obsession outside of work is golf and she also enjoys travel, cooking, gardening, reading, and the occasional Scotch.

For more info:
* Jeffrey Sinibaldi, media relations officer, 905-688-5550 x4687;
* Diane Uppal, associate registrar for Convocation, 905-688-5550 x3249;

James Stewart

James Stewart