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Trent University Announces Five Honorary Degree Recipients to be Recognized at 2009 Convocation Ceremonies


Award-winning Actress and Film Director Sarah Polley and Renowned Aboriginal Leader Tom Porter among those to be Honoured at June Convocation Ceremonies

Tuesday, March 10, 2009, Peterborough

On behalf of Senate, the President of Trent University announced today the outstanding individuals who will receive honorary degrees at convocation ceremonies on June 3, 4, and 5, 2009.

“This year we are pleased to honour such a distinguished group of individuals who are nationally and internationally recognized for their achievements and accomplishments,” said President Bonnie Patterson. “In their respective fields of environmental activism, humanitarianism, acting and directing, Aboriginal education and visual art, each of the 2009 recipients is a true leader and visionary.”

Trent University’s 2009 convocation ceremonies will be held over a three-day period, with two ceremonies on June 3 and June 4, and one ceremony on June 5.

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

Maude Barlow
Wednesday, June 3 – Morning Ceremony

Maude Barlow is an internationally-renowned activist and author. She is the national chairperson of the Council of Canadians and the inaugural senior advisor on water to the president of the United Nations General Assembly. She also chairs the Board of Washington-based Food and Water Watch and is a councillor with the Hamburg-based World Future Council. As a best-selling author, Ms. Barlow has written or co-written 16 books, including the recently released Blue Covenant: The Global Water Crisis and The Coming Battle for the Right to Water. For her social justice work, Ms. Barlow has received many distinguished awards, including: seven honorary doctorates, the 2008 Canadian Environment Award, the Canadian Environment Award’s Citation of Lifetime Achievement award and the 2005 Right Livelihood Award, known as the Alternative Nobel.

Sarah Polley
Wednesday, June 3 – Afternoon Ceremony

As an award-winning actress and film director, Sarah Polley has won international acclaim. Ms. Polley made a name for herself as a child actress, appearing in the film The Adventures of Baron Munchausen and in a lead role in the popular television series Road to Avonlea. Throughout her career, Ms. Polley has been committed to making films with social importance. She has appeared in 43 TV series and feature films, including The Sweet Hereafter, Guinevere, Go, The Secret Life of Words, and My Life Without Me. In 1999 made her first short film, and went on to direct five short films. In 2008, she was nominated for an Academy Award for best adapted screenplay for Away from Her, her first feature film, based on a short story by Alice Munro. That year, she also became the first woman to receive a Genie Award for direction. The movie also won the Best Feature Film award from the Director's Guild of Canada and The Writer's Guild of Canada as well as numerous critics’ prizes throughout the world. To date, she has won nine prestigious film and television awards and has been nominated for 13 others. Celebrated for her intelligence as well as for her remarkable talent, Ms. Polley is also renowned for her political activism.

The Honourable Iona Campagnolo
Thursday, June 4 – Morning Ceremony

The Honourable Iona Campagnolo became the first woman Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia in 2001. Her introduction to politics began in 1966 when she served on the school board in Prince Rupert, later becoming chairwoman. She also worked at Skeena Broadcasting Limited as the manager of sales and host of her own daily radio show. In 1974, she ran for and was elected to the House of Commons in the riding of Skeena. Shortly thereafter she was appointed parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and then served as a Minister in the Government of then-Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. In 1982, she became the first female president of the Liberal Party of Canada. In another first, she took on the role as the Chancellor of the University of Northern British Columbia when it opened in the 1994. Throughout her career, she has served on many boards for causes she feels passionately about, including the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development. She has also participated in election monitoring and human rights events in Africa. For all of her work, she has received many honorary degrees and awards, including as an Officer of the Order of Canada, the Order of British Columbia and Broadcast Citizen of the Year for British Columbia.

Tom Porter
Thursday, June 4 – Afternoon Ceremony

Since the 1960s, Tom Porter has been a nationally-recognized Aboriginal leader and lecturer. A spokesman and chief spiritual leader of the Mohawk Community of Kanatsiohareke in Fonda, New York, Mr. Porter has served numerous positions on the Mohawk Nation of Chiefs Council over the past 25 years. He is the co-founder of White Roots of Peace, a group of Iroquois Elders who toured the country sharing traditional teachings, and the Akwesasne Freedom School, where he has taught many classes. Mr. Porter has also taught at Trent University and has worked as a cultural researcher and consultant for the North American Indian Traveling College. He is also the author of the book Our Ways, a study of Iroquoian clan systems, and has received the Rothko Chapel Award for commitment to truth and freedom. In 1998, Mr. Porter launched the first Iroquois Immersion Program, a language and lifeway restoration project for the Haudenosaunee. In his native language of Mohawk, Tom Porter’s name, Sakokwenionkwas, means “the one who wins.”

Mary Pratt
Friday, June 5 – Morning Ceremony

Mary Pratt is one of Canada's most eminent and beloved artists, and possibly its most illustrious female painter. After completing a certificate in Fine Arts and a Bachelor of Fine Arts at Mount Allison University, getting married and having four children, she had her first exhibition at the Art Gallery of Memorial University in 1967. Since then, her art has been displayed and celebrated in galleries across Canada and in the US, such as the Vancouver Art Gallery and the National Art Gallery of Canada. Described as a visual poet of femaleness, Ms. Pratt offers many different layers of meaning in her works, some of which are explored in her book, Mary Pratt: A Personal Calligraphy, a collection of essays, speeches and candid personal journal entries. For her contributions to the field, she has been received many prestigious honours, including: the Ontario College of Art Fellowship Award; Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council Hall of Honour; and Companion of the Order of Canada. She has also received honorary doctorates from eight Canadian universities and served on various boards, committees and task forces.

For a complete list of honorary degree recipients throughout Trent University’s history, please visit the site.


For more information about the tradition of honorary degrees and recipients at Trent, please contact:
Dianne Lister, vice president, External Relations & Advancement, Trent University, (705) 748-1011 x7207

To get in touch with the 2009 honorary degree recipients, please contact:
Brittany Cadence, Communications Officer, Trent University, (705) 748-1011 ext. 6185