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Five Distinguished Canadians to Receive Honorary Degrees at Trent University’s 2015 Convocation

Degrassi producer Stephen Stohn, filmmaker Peter Raymont, renowned naturalist Drew Monkman, Indigenous teacher and elder Michael Thrasher, and leading child care advocate Martha Friendly, to be honoured at June ceremonies

Five Distinguished Canadians to Receive Honorary Degrees at Trent University’s  2015 Convocation
Five Distinguished Canadians to Receive Honorary Degrees at Trent University’s 2015 Convocation

 Trent University will honour the executive producer of Degrassi, an award-winning filmmaker, a local naturalist, an Indigenous teacher, and Canada’s leading advocate in child care as the University’s 2015 honorary degree recipients at Convocation ceremonies to be held June 2 to 5, 2015.

“Each year, Trent recognizes a group of inspiring individuals with the University’s highest honour: an honorary doctorate. This year continues that tradition,” said Dr. Leo Groarke, president and vice-chancellor at Trent University. “At our upcoming ceremonies we pay tribute to five individuals who have made long-lasting contributions to our local, national and global communities in the fields of child care, film, music, the environment and Indigenous studies.

The following individuals will be presented with an honorary degree at this year’s ceremonies.

Stephen Stohn – Thursday, June 4 - 10:00 a.m. ceremony

Doctor of Letters degree to be awarded for significant contributions to the arts and cultural life of Canada.

Peter Raymont – Wednesday, June 3 – 10:00 a.m. ceremony

Doctor of Letters degree to be awarded for contributions to Canadian culture and society through his documentary films exploring social injustice, politics, Canadian history and culture.

Drew Monkman –Tuesday, June 2 - 10:00 a.m. ceremony

Doctor of Science degree to be awarded for achievements in promoting knowledge of, and an appreciation for, the natural environment, especially in the Kawarthas.

Michael Thrasher – Wednesday, June 3 - 2:00 p.m. ceremony

Doctor of Laws degree to be awarded for contributions in creating a climate of respect for Indigenous and Traditional knowledge in Canada and internationally.

Martha Friendly – Friday, June 5 - 2:00 p.m. ceremony

Doctor of Laws degree to be awarded for her research and advocacy in the area of early childhood education and child care which have helped to shape policy on these issues.

Profiles are below and full bios, including nominator and recipient quotes, are available on the Convocation website at


Stephen Stohn ‘66

Since graduating from Trent, Stephen Stohn ‘66 has enjoyed an outstanding career in the entertainment industry. He began his 50-year career in the industry as a performing artist and songwriter, and is now a TV producer and a founding partner of a prestigious entertainment law firm.

Mr. Stohn is president of Epitome Pictures Inc. and their related companies, and executive producer of numerous television series including, Degrassi, Open Heart, Instant Star and The L.A. As founding partner in the entertainment law firm, Stohn Hay Cafazzo Dembroski Richmond LLP, Mr. Stohn provides strategic legal advice to performers, advertisers, agencies, merchandisers, recording artists, songwriters, multimedia/internet creators, broadcasters and film and television producers.

In 2011 Mr. Stohn was inducted into the Canadian Music & Broadcast Industry Hall of Fame, nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award, and won a Peabody Award.

During his time at Trent in the 1960s, Mr. Stohn founded both Arthur newspaper and Trent Radio before graduating with a B.A. in Economics.

Peter Raymont

Peter Raymont is a filmmaker, journalist, writer and activist who has produced and directed over 100 films and TV series during his 44 year career, many of which offer provocative investigations of hidden worlds in politics, the media, business and the arts.

Mr. Raymont is the president of White Pine Pictures, an independent, Canadian film and television production company based in Toronto. For 37 years White Pine Pictures has engaged audiences worldwide with compelling, relevant stories in documentary and dramatic form.

His films have received 54 international awards including 13 Geminis (49 nominations), Gold and Silver Hugos, The Sesterce d’Argent among others. His documentary feature, Shake Hands with the Devil: The Journey of Roméo Dallaire received the 2007 Emmy for Best Documentary.

Currently, Mr. Raymont is the executive producer and co-creator of the award-winning TV series The Border, produced for the CBC, sold to over 25 broadcasters and versioned into 11 languages. He is also the executive producer of the CBC drama series, Cracked, an award-winning crime/medical drama, about a seasoned police officer at the helm of the Psych Crimes and Crisis Unit, who is himself effected by post-traumatic stress disorder. Cracked aired for two seasons across Canada and has been sold to France, Germany, and USA and many other countries.

Drew Monkman

A retired teacher, naturalist and writer, Drew Monkman has a love for all aspects of the natural world. As a local Peterborough resident, the retired French immersion elementary school teacher always brought his passion for the environment and natural history to the classroom. For over 20 years, Mr. Monkman oversaw the development of a schoolyard naturalization project and outdoor classroom at his school, Edmison Heights, which has been a model for many similar projects. 

Mr. Monkman studied Biology and Geography for two years at Trent University before completing an undergraduate degree in journalism at Université Laval in Quebec City. He later went on to complete a Master’s degree in Education at the University of Toronto.

Perhaps best known as an award-winning nature writer and naturalist, Mr. Monkman writes a weekly nature column in the local newspaper, The Peterborough Examiner, and is the author of two books, Nature’s Year in the Kawarthas: A Guide to the Unfolding Seasons and Nature’s Year: Changing Seasons in Central and Eastern Ontario. Currently, he is co-authoring a family and classroom guide on nature activities through the four seasons. Mr. Monkman has won a number of awards for his writing and environmental advocacy, including induction into the Peterborough Pathway of Fame, the Carl Nunn Media and Conservation Award from Ontario Nature, and the Environmental Excellence Conservationist Award from the Otonabee Region Conservation Authority. 

Michael Thrasher

Elder Michael Thrasher (KA-WHYWA-WEET), Turtle Clan, is a nationally recognized teacher of First Nations philosophy, tradition, and knowledge. As part of this revitalization in Indigenous knowledge, Trent University, which had launched Canada’s first Native Studies (now Indigenous Studies) program in Canada, broke new ground investigating how Indigenous knowledge could be integrated into the university landscape. Trent invited a number of Elders, including Elder Thrasher, as wascapeos (helper/apprentice), to spend time with students and explore the opportunity before them. This effort resulted in the very first Elders Conference, now an annual event at Trent, which Elder Thrasher participates in each year.

Throughout his career, Elder Thrasher has dedicated his life to teaching and sharing Indigenous ways of knowing, meeting with countless numbers of Aboriginal peoples, First Nation communities, organizations, and institutions to foster healing and reconciliation.

Today, Elder Thrasher is widely recognized for his ability to utilize traditional Indigenous knowledge to address contemporary issues. He has given lectures and taught courses on the topic and has mentored numerous undergraduate and graduate students across Canada, including a number of doctoral candidates at Trent. As a valued Elder and colleague with the Indigenous Studies program at Trent, Elder Thrasher has been instrumental in bringing the original vision to fruition, integrating traditional knowledge into the University through the development of initiatives such as the PhD program, another first in Canada.

Martha Friendly

Canada’s leading child care advocate, Martha Friendly is a highly respected researcher, and a major architect of policy thinking on child care issues. For more than 40 years, she has spearheaded research projects and been a leader in advocacy campaigns, all of which have contributed to the fight for universal, high-quality, accessible, and inclusive early childhood education and child care in Canada.

She is the founder and executive director of the Childcare Resource and Research Unit (CRRU), Canada’s only policy research institute for early childhood education and care and has published extensively on ECEC in a variety of academic and community-based venues. She has also been a main contributor to various child care advocacy groups such as the Child Care Advocacy Association of Canada. Under her leadership, the CRRU has grown into a nationally and internationally recognized knowledge producer and mobilizer on early childhood education and care (ECEC).

Ms. Friendly is the author of many scholarly publications including two books on child care policy, most recently, About Canada: Childcare, co-authored with sociologist Susan Prentice.  As a researcher and an activist, Ms. Friendly has worked collaboratively with other scholars, policy makers, social justice, advocacy and early childhood professional groups towards a common goal of a publicly funded national ECEC program for all families and children. 

Posted on Wednesday, March 25, 2015.

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