Three to Receive Honorary Degrees During Winter Convocation

February 04, 2010 - News Release

Aboriginal Canadian leader Phil Fontaine, who made national history when he accepted Canada's formal apology for the tragedy of residential schools, will receive an honorary degree during U of G's winter convocation running Feb. 16 and 17.

The University will also present honorary degrees to James Bartleman, the first aboriginal person to hold the position of lieutenant-governor of Ontario, and Frank Barnes, whose academic achievements have made significant contributions to telecommunications.

In addition, Ted Bilyea, who has helped Maple Leaf Foods become the largest exporter of food in Canada, will receive the MacMillan Laureate in Agriculture, an award given to an individual who has made a significant contribution to agriculture in Canada over the last five years.

Convocation begins Feb. 16 at 10 a.m. with a ceremony for the College of Arts. U of G president Alastair Summerlee will address the graduating class. He will also give the convocation address at the 1 p.m. ceremony for the College of Biological Science.

At the 4 p.m. ceremony for the College of Management and Economics, Fontaine will receive an honorary doctorate of laws and address the graduands. He was elected for three terms as national chief of the Assembly of First Nations between 1997 and 2009 and previously served three consecutive terms as grand chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs. An inspirational leader, Fontaine has significantly enhanced the circumstances and potential of First Nations people. One of his most significant achievements was his pivotal role in negotiating the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, which is the largest and most comprehensive settlement in Canadian history.

On Feb. 17 at 10 a.m. there will be a the ceremony for the College of Physical and Engineering Science and the first of two ceremonies for the College of Social and Applied Human Sciences (CSAHS). Barnes will receive an honorary doctorate of science and give the convocation address. A distinguished professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Colorado, he was instrumental in introducing a revolutionary master’s program in interdisciplinary telecommunications. The program, which was built on the concept that future engineers would need not only a mastery of technical details but also an appreciation for policy and business aspects of industry, has been modelled by institutions nationwide.

Bartleman will receive an honorary doctorate of laws and address the graduands at the second CSAHS ceremony at 1 p.m. While serving as Ontario’s lieutenant-governor from 2002 to 2007, he was dedicated to reducing the stigma of mental illness, fighting racism and discrimination and promoting literacy among aboriginal youth. Prior to this role, he had a distinguished career spanning 35 years in the Canadian Foreign Service, holding the highest ever Foreign Service rank of any Canadian aboriginal person. He also became one of the most respected advisers in Canadian international affairs.

Convocation concludes with Bilyea receiving the MacMillan Laureate in Agriculture and addressing students graduating from the Ontario Agricultural College and the Ontario Veterinary College at the 4 p.m. ceremony. Now an independent consultant, he was formerly the executive vice-president of Maple Leaf Foods Inc. and president of Maple Leaf Foods International. Under his leadership, Maple Leaf entered the specialized bakery business in Europe and became the largest exporter of food in Canada. He currently serves as deputy chair of the Science Advisory Board of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, a board member of the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency and a member of the Canadian Prion Research Network.

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