Memorial’s spring convocation will see more than 2,500 graduate and undergraduate students recognized for years of hard work.
Convocation takes place at the Corner Brook Civic Centre on May 16 and at the St. John’s Arts and Culture Centre from May 28-31.
Along with celebrating Memorial’s newest graduates, spring convocation is also an opportunity to recognize leading cultural, academic and social leaders with the awarding of honorary degrees.
Honorary degrees will be awarded to performer and cultural leader Shirley Montague; Dr. Ian Simpson, a community doctor and community activist; former Newfoundland and Labrador lieutenant-governor Frank Fagan; philanthropist Elaine Dobbin; Dr. Norman Campbell, a champion of the prevention and control of hypertension; and the entertainers Kevin Blackmore, Wayne Chaulk and Ray Johnson, also known as Buddy Wasisname and the Other Fellers.
Biographies of the honorary graduands follow below.
Honorary degree recipients are chosen from nominations submitted by the public to the Senate, the university’s academic governing body, after a careful examination of the grounds for their nomination. The honorary doctorate degree is designed to recognize extraordinary contribution to society or the university or exceptional intellectual or artistic achievement.
Dr. Gary Kachanoski, Memorial’s president and vice-chancellor, will address all sessions of convocation and will be joined by other members of Memorial’s senior administration who will speak at various ceremonies.
Ceremonies will be broadcast live on www.mun.ca during each session of convocation. The recorded broadcasts will be archived on Memorial’s convocation website for future viewing.
Born in North West River, Labrador, Shirley Montague began performing at the age of 15 and, after moving to Norris Point in the mid-1970s, continued to write, perform and produce music and to develop cultural programs.
She has been called one of the most widely accomplished, recognized and respected figures in the provincial arts, music and cultural industries. Ms. Montague continues to celebrate and preserve the traditional music of Labrador. In 1988 she wrote original music for the Ode to Labrador and rearranged the lyrics to incorporate Inuktitut and Innu-aimun translations.
In 1993 Ms. Montague produced the compilation Our Labrador, which includes folk songs in the three languages of Labrador. In 1999, in collaboration with Eric West, she produced Gros Morne: A Musical Journey, a haunting musical interpretation inspired by the culture and landscape of the national park.
In 2008 she led the Remembering the Red Bay Basques project, a compilation recording celebrating the 16th-century Basques whaling history. In 2014 Red Bay was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
An organizer as well as an artist, Ms. Montague spearheaded the creation of the Gros Morne Musicians in Residence program and is the founder and longtime artistic director of the Trails Tales Tunes festival in Norris Point/Gros Morne National Park.
She has served on many arts- and tourism-related committees and boards, including MusicNL, Factor and ArtsNL, to name a few. She also served with organizations such as the Provincial Women’s Institutes, Marble Mountain Development Corporation and the Judicial Council.
She is a longstanding board member with Gros Morne Cooperating Association (GMCA) and was involved in the establishment of the office of Creative Gros Morne (a vehicle for the arts in Gros Morne) under the umbrella of GMCA.
Ms. Montague has been recognized for her work with numerous awards, including Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador’s Cultural Tourism Award, Music NL’s Denis Parker Industry Builder Award, ECMA’s Stompin’ Tom Unsung Hero Award and the Historic Sites Manning Award.
She was a major researcher and consultant for the 1996 study of the economic benefits of the sound recording industry in the province and has operated her own production company, Butter and Snow Productions.
For her many contributions to creating and sustaining the cultural heritage of Labrador and for being a pillar of the music industry in this province, Shirley Montague will receive a doctor of laws degree, honoris causa, during convocation in Corner Brook on Thursday, May 16, at 10 a.m.
Dr. Ian Simpson
Dr. Ian Simpson’s contributions have been of benefit not only in the local community where he practised but to the province as a whole. He has been a stalwart and consistent activist in environmental issues related to human health.
He has helped to strengthen and expand the cultural community in the Corner Brook area and was specifically of service to Memorial University as an early member of the advisory board set up for the college that has since become Grenfell Campus.
Born in Towersey, England, Dr. Simpson was educated at Cambridge University in the U.K. and began his medical career at the St. Lawrence Cottage Hospital. He accepted a role as a family physician at the West Coast Medical Clinic in Corner Brook in 1965.
During his medical career, Dr. Simpson served as chief of staff at the Western Health Care Corporation and medical director of Geriatric Services at the O’Connell Centre, Corner Brook.
Although he retired from full-time family service in 2001, Dr. Simpson maintained his habit of giving of his training and experience, effectively being only semi-retired for several years while he assisted in the chemotherapy unit and the long-term care residence.
His environmental activism began when he encountered patients suffering health effects from mining during his first posting in Newfoundland, and attempted to bring these issues to the attention of others. The effects of mining and pesticides on human health have been his chief concern. He has been consistently vocal on such issues throughout his career and retirement.
He helped establish a local orchestra and through the years acted as a patron and advocate of such local initiatives as Gros Morne Summer Music and the Comer Brook Arts and Culture Centre Series. Most recently the establishment of the Rotary Arts Centre in the new Corner Brook City Hall has received his support.
He was named Canadian College of Family Physicians Family Physician of the Year in 1995, was granted Honorary Life Membership in the Canadian Medical Association in 2006 and received the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association Lifetime Membership Award in 2017.
For his exceptional public service and impact on community well-being, especially in and around Corner Brook, as well as for his tenacious advocacy work related to environmental health, Ian MacDougall Simpson will receive a doctor of laws degree, honoris causa, during convocation in Corner Brook on Thursday, May 16, at 10 a.m.