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Dr. Bonnie Henry and Robert Davidson among VIU honorary degree recipients

Vancouver Island University is bestowing honorary degrees at convocation ceremonies

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Indigenous artist Guud Sans Glans, or Robert Davidson, were presented with the first of this year’s honorary degrees from Vancouver Island University during convocation ceremonies Wednesday in Nanaimo.

Indigenous business leader Matt Vickers and author Joan Mayo are being ­acknowledged with honorary degrees at ­ceremonies today, with Mayo’s to be presented at a later date.

Receiving an honorary degree Friday will he Thiyuas, or Florence James, a Coast Salish elder, Penelakut Tribe matriarch and former VIU elder-in-residence.

Her degree will be given during VIU’s Indigenous Graduation Recognition Ceremony, known as Semélshun.

“VIU awards honorary degrees to publicly acknowledge members of society who demonstrate leadership and achievement in an area related to the university’s mission and values, including in the areas of scholarship, research, teaching, the creative arts, business and industry, international affairs or public service,” said VIU chancellor Cloy-e-iis, or Judith Sayers. “Our honorary-degree recipients are meant to encourage a standard of excellence and innovation and inspire our graduates as they head into the next part of their journeys.”

Henry has been provincial health officer since 2018 after serving in the deputy role for three years.

She led the province’s resp0nse to the COVID-19 pandemic and is at the forefront of dealing the current toxic-drug crisis.

Henry is also a clinical associate professor at the University of British Columbia and a 2022 recipient of the Order of British Columbia.

Davidson, who is of Haida descent, is a master carver of totem poles and masks, as well as a print maker, painter and jeweller.

He is a leader in the renaissance of Haida art and culture, holds numerous other honorary degrees and is a recipient of the Order of Canada and the Order of British Columbia.

Vickers owns Vickers and Associates, a management and financial-consulting company, serves as chief executive of Northern Nations Co-operative and is co-chair of Honouring Nations Canada — which shares stories of Indigenous achievement and promotes opportunities for Indigenous people.

Vickers has Tsimshian/Heiltsuk and Haida ancestry on his father’s side and English ancestry on his mother’s side.

Joan Mayo, known as an “intercultural bridge builder,” is the author of Paldi Remembered: 50 Years in the Life of a Vancouver Island Logging Town, which looks at the Cowichan Valley town of Paldi’s multicultural community made up of people of South Asian, Chinese, Japanese, Indigenous and European descent.

She was raised in the mid-Island region and married Rajindi Mayo, son of Mayo Singh — one of Paldi’s founders.

James is a fluent speaker of the Penelakut Tribe dialect of the Hul’qumi’num language, and is known for her cultural expertise, dedication to the environment and commitment to the care and education of young children.

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