Chief Justice & Local Marathon Swimmer Among Queen’s Honorary Degree Recipients

Published on: 2011/05/25 - in Releases

Chief Justice of Canada Beverley McLachlin and marathon swimmer Vicki Keith will receive honorary Doctor of Laws degrees at Queen’s spring convocation next month.

Chief Justice McLachlin began her judicial career in 1981 when she was appointed to the Vancouver County Court. The same year she was appointed to the Supreme Court of British Columbia. She was elevated to the British Columbia Court of Appeal in 1985 and was appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of British Columbia in 1988. In 1989, she was sworn in as a Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada and in 2000, she was appointed Chief Justice of Canada. She is the first woman in Canada to hold this position.

Chief Justice McLachlin has received 29 honorary degrees and was named Commander of the French Legion of Honour in 2007. In 2010, she was named Canadian of the Year by the Canadian Club of Toronto and was inducted into the International Hall of Fame by the International Women’s Forum.

Vicki Keith is the most successful marathon swimmer in the history of the sport, holding an unprecedented sixteen world records. Constantly surpassing the records of other swimmers as well as previous records of her own, Vicki has become, to many, the face of marathon swimming in both Canada and around the world. Her most recognized accomplishments include becoming the first person to swim across all five Great Lakes in 1988 and being the only person to complete the 104 kilometre double crossing of Lake Ontario.

After her marathon swimming career, Ms Keith took on a new challenge – coaching competitive swimming to a team of athletes with physical disabilities. In 2001, she founded the Y Knot Abilities Programs for young people with physical disabilities and their able-bodied siblings. She has been appointed as a member of the Order of Canada, in recognition of her outstanding achievements and service.

In 1996 she was inducted into the Terry Fox Hall of Fame, and in 1998 she had her most famous arrival and departure point renamed after her. The headlands of the Leslie Street Spit in Toronto are now called Vicki Keith Point.

Chief Justice McLachlin receives her degree on Friday, June 10 at 2:30 pm, and Ms Keith receives her degree on Thursday, June 9 at 10 am.

Chancellor David Dodge will preside over the ceremonies from May 26-June 10. They will be webcast live from the Queen’s campus.

Other recipients of Queen’s honorary degrees this spring include:

On Thursday, May 26 at 2:30 pm, Izzeldin Abuelaish will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws.

Izzeldin Abuelaish, MD, MPH, often known and referred to as “the Gaza Doctor”, is a Palestinian medical doctor and infertility specialist who has spent his life working to create peace as a researcher, educator, and leader in the conflict between Israel and Palestine. Dr. Abuelaish received his early education in the refugee camp school system in Jabalia, Gaza. He studied medicine in Cairo, Egypt and later obtained a diploma in Obstetrics and Gynecology with the Ministry of Health in Saudi Arabia in collaboration with the Institute of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of London. He went on to earn his Master in Public Health degree in Health Policy and Management at Harvard University, and later worked as a senior researcher at the Gertner Institute in Sheba hospital in Israel.

Currently, Dr. Abuelaish is an Associate Professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto, Canada. His excellence and accomplishments have been recognized through a number of awards, including the 2009 Stavros Niarchos Prize for Survivorship, the 2009 Search for Common Ground Award, the 2009 Middle East Institute Award, the 2010 Uncommon Courage Award from the Centre for Ethnic, Racial and Religious Understanding and the 2010 Mahatma Ghandi Peace Award of Canada.

On Wednesday, June 1 at 2:30 pm, Robert Beamish will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws.

While at Queen’s, from which he graduated with a BSc in Mechanical Engineering in 1960, Robert Beamish developed his life-long love of flying and acquired his pilot’s license.

Over the next 14 years he held several positions with Monsanto Canada starting with Technical Service Representative and including positions in manufacturing, marketing, and management, with his final assignment being President of Monsanto Canada. In 1978, Mr. Beamish and his colleague at Monsanto, Bob Fitzhenry, purchased the business, now known as The Woodbridge Group. The business has grown over the past 30 years from one local Canadian plant to over 60 facilities in 21 countries. It now produces and assembles many products, primarily for the automotive industry, and remains a private Canadian corporation.

More than 10 years ago, Bob, his wife Marilyn and their three children formed a charitable foundation. The WB Family Foundation’s primary purpose is to assist organizations with their creative initiatives in medical research, health care, and education. Participating in the realization of the Queen’s Integrated Learning Centre, Beamish-Munro Hall, is one example of the foundation’s interests. The Foundation has also placed a particular emphasis on mental health issues through its association with The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, as well as funding certain hospitals specifically in the area of diagnostic imaging.

On Monday, June 6 at 10 am, Piers McDonald will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws.

Piers McDonald has dedicated his life to improving the lives of others in Canada’s Yukon Territory. He moved to the Yukon to take part in its mining industry, in 1975 and a few years later was a Member of its Legislative Assembly.

For the next two decades, Mr. McDonald was at the head of numerous government ministries, such as the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Community and Transport, and the Ministry of Finance. He spearheaded construction of the Yukon College campus and the Yukon Arts Centre, as well as community schools in Dawson City, Old Crow, and Watson Lake. He opened the Skagway Road year-round, providing access to the ocean ports for Yukon’s mines. Mr. McDonald was one of the architects of Yukon’s Umbrella Final Agreement, which saw most of Yukon’s fourteen First Nations peoples become self-governing. He also oversaw the devolution of federal powers in health, highways, and airports to the Yukon government.

Mr. McDonald led the Yukon New Democratic Party from 1995 to 2000, and was the Territory’s Premier from 1996 to 2000. In 2009, he was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada.

On Wednesday, June 8 at 10 am, John Crosbie will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws.

John Crosbie attended Queen’s University and graduated with an Arts degree and the medal in Politics in 1953. After graduation, he attended Dalhousie Law School and graduated in 1956 as a University Medallist and received the Viscount Bennett Fellowship for post-graduate study, which led to further legal studies at the London School of Economics in 1956 and 1957.

In 1957, he was called to the bar of Newfoundland and has served as a member of the Law Society of Newfoundland for 54 years. Mr. Crosbie was first elected as a Member of the House of Assembly of Newfoundland in 1966 and served until winning a by-election in St. John’s West Federal District in 1976. He served as a Member of Parliament in Opposition and, at various times, as a Minister of Finance, Justice, Transport, International Trade, and Fisheries and Oceans. He retired from politics in 1993 and was the Chancellor of Memorial University from 1994 to 2008, when he was appointed Lieutenant Governor of Newfoundland and Labrador.


Release source: Queen’s University | Photo source: Wikipedia