Honoring Indigenous leadership at SFU
During the 2019 and 2020 convocation ceremonies SFU recognized four prominent Indigenous Leaders with honorary degrees.
Ruby Peter (Sti’tum’at), a Coast Salish Elder who for six decades infused her love of Hul’q’umi’num’ cultural traditions into her language teaching and linguistic research. She received an honorary Doctor of Laws during the June 2019 convocation. Sadly, she passed away in February 2021.
Nadine Caron, who is Anishnawbe from Sagamok First Nation (Lake Huron Region, Ontario), is a surgeon, associate professor, and internationally renowned health advocate who is passionate about improving health outcomes for Indigenous peoples. She is also a co-director and co-founder of the UBC Centre for Excellence in Indigenous Health. An SFU alumnus, she received an SFU honorary Doctor of Science during the 2019 convocation ceremony. In 2011, she received an SFU Outstanding Alumni Award.
Chief Robert Joseph (Gayusdas) is a hereditary chief of the Gwawaenuk First Nation (Vancouver Island) and a peacebuilder who has devoted his life to promoting reconciliation among Canada’s Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. He received SFU’s honorary Doctor of Laws, honoris causa in 2019 and also holds the Order of BC, the Order of Canada and SFU’s Jack P. Blaney Award for Dialogue.
During the 2020 convocation ceremonies, SFU bestowed an honorary Doctor of Laws on Sophie Pierre, a recognized Indigenous leader who has championed Indigenous education and economic development. She is a former chief of ʔAq̓ am, St. Mary’s Indian Band, now known as the Ktunaxa Nation (Cranbrook, B.C. region), and a former chief commissioner of the British Columbia Treaty Commission.
In 2021 SFU bestowed honorary degrees on three exceptional Indigenous individuals.
Margo Kane is a renowned Cree-Saulteaux performing artist and an advocate for advancing Indigenous performing arts in Canada. She has dedicated her life to mentoring Indigenous artists and creating opportunities to showcase their work and culture. She received an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts.
Siila (Sheila) Watt-Cloutier, a respected Inuit leader, is one of the world’s most recognized environmental, climate change and human rights advocates. She has helped raise public awareness about climate change and its impact on the Arctic and its peoples. She received an honorary Doctor of Laws. Watt-Cloutier is also a previous recipient of SFU’s 2019 Jack P. Blaney Award for Dialogue.
Dr. John Borrows is a leading authority on Indigenous, constitutional and environmental law who helped establish the world’s first Indigenous law degree, and whose scholarship is having a transformative impact on reconciliation efforts in Canada and around the world. He is Anishinabe/ Ojibway and a member of the Chippewa of the Nawash First Nation in Ontario. A visiting professor in SFU’s Beedie School of Business, Borrows received an honorary Doctor of Laws.