Almost 1,400 graduates will receive degrees at the Fall 2017 convocation next week, and four honorary doctor of laws will be awarded. Credit: Photo Services

Indigenous men renowned for activism and courage among those to receive honorary doctorates

Fall convocation markscompletion of academic studies for 1,396 UVic graduates

Two Indigenous men renowned for their activism and courage are among four noted Canadians who will receive honorary doctor of laws degrees from the University of Victoria during fall convocation Nov. 14 and 15.

Honorary degrees will be awarded to Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation member Barney Williams Jr. and former Gitxsan-Wet’suwet’en Tribal Council president Neil Sterritt. BC’s first information and privacy commissioner, David Flaherty, will also receive an honorary doctor of laws at the fall convocation, along with lawyer Sheridan Scott, recently named one of Canada’s 100 most powerful women.

Williams is a residential school survivor and registered clinical counsellor living in Campbell River, who is recognized for his invaluable contribution to the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. Removed from his home at age five and taken to the Christie Indian Residential School in Tofino, Williams now works to help others heal and is a UVic Elder, helping guide the university’s role in reconciliation. He receives his honorary degree Nov. 14 at 10 a.m.

Sterritt, a resident of 150 Mile House, was a driving force behind one of the most important court decisions in Canada on Indigenous land claims – the 1997 Supreme Court of Canada Delgamuukw decision that confirmed the existence of Aboriginal title in BC. Sterritt and other Gitxsan leaders worked with former UVic president Howard Petch in the early 1980s to develop and implement the First Nations teacher education program at UVic and in Sterritt’s home community of Hazelton. He receives his degree Nov. 14 at 2:30 p.m.

Flaherty served as BC’s information and privacy commissioner from 1993 to 1999, writing some 320 orders under the Freedom of Information and Privacy Act. Flaherty was among the legal scholars who led the way during the 1980s toward a new focus on Canadian legal history rather than the English common law that had dominated up to that point. The Victoria resident will receive his degree Nov. 15 at 10 a.m.

Scott is the first UVic law grad to serve as clerk to the Supreme Court of Canada, and has an extensive and diverse work history that includes serving as legal counsel to the Canadian Radio and Television Commission and as vice-president of regulatory affairs for CBC. Earlier this year, the Women’s Executive Network named Scott as one of Canada’s 100 most powerful women. Scott, now living in Victoria, will receive her degree Nov. 15 at 2:30 p.m.

The fall convocation ceremonies mark the successful completion of academic studies for 1,396 UVic graduates receiving degrees, diplomas and certificates.

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