media release

SFU announces 2016 honorary degree recipients

March 17, 2016

Gloria Chu, Ceremonies and Events, 778.782.4643,
Allen Tung, University Communications, 778.782.3608,


An internationally recognized experimental particle physicist and a former Canadian senator are among the distinguished individuals to receive honorary degrees in 2016 from Simon Fraser University.

During the spring convocation, June 7-10, SFU will confer honorary degrees on:

  • Izzeldin Abuelaish, an inspirational Palestinian physician. Despite tremendous hardships and the tragic loss of three daughters during the 2009 Gaza War, he has devoted his life to promoting hope, human rights and peace between Palestinians and Israelis, and the world.
  • Keith Beedie, a visionary business leader and philanthropist. As the founder of Beedie Development Group, he has helped shape the landscape of Vancouver and beyond. His business integrity, innovation and commitment to give back to his community make him a role model for SFU’s emerging leaders and entrepreneurs.
  • Robert Bringhurst, a celebrated author and poet who has written more than 40 books of prose and poetry. He is renowned for translating and interpreting Native American oral literature.
  • David Gillespie, an award-winning SFU adjunct professor and research scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, recognized for his groundbreaking scientific achievements in the field of entomology. 
  • Evaleen Jaager Roy, a business and community leader whose work has created a lasting legacy. During her tenure as SFU board chair, the University expanded to downtown Vancouver and laid the plans for future development at the Burnaby campus.
  • Nigel Lockyer, an internationally recognized experimental particle physicist and transformative leader. He is a former director of TRIUMF, Canada’s national laboratory for nuclear and particle physics, and now leads the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in the U.S. 
  • Geoffrey Massey, who along with his business partner Arthur Erickson helped design, create and realize the SFU Burnaby campus’ distinctive, innovative and world renowned architecture.  
  • Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, a lawyer, scholar, humanitarian and strong advocate for Aboriginal people, children and youth. A judge currently on leave from the Saskatchewan Provincial Court, she is B.C.’s first representative for children and youth. She is a member of the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation.

At the fall convocation ceremonies, October 6–7, the recipients will be:

  • Evan Tlesla II Adams, a Coast Salish physician and actor. He is the chief medical officer for the First Nations Health Authority and was B.C.’s first Aboriginal health physician advisor. He has won many awards for his acting roles in film and television.
  • Vivienne Poy, former Senator of Canada and a champion of intercultural understanding. Renowned for her extraordinary commitment to community, she is an honorary patron and/or chair of many organizations, including the SFU David Lam Centre’s Chinese-Canadian history public-education project.
  • Tamara Vrooman, a business leader committed to equality, inclusion and empowerment. Under her leadership as president and CEO of Vancity, the credit union is now the largest community-based credit union in Canada.
  • Lorna Wanosts’a7 Williams, a renowned B.C. educator and former Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Knowledge and Learning, she has devoted her career to enhancing education for Aboriginal learners and promoting Indigenous language revitalization.


As Canada's engaged university, SFU is defined by its dynamic integration of innovative education, cutting-edge research and far-reaching community engagement. SFU was founded 50 years ago with a mission to be a different kind of university—to bring an interdisciplinary approach to learning, embrace bold initiatives, and engage with communities near and far. Today, SFU is Canada’s leading comprehensive research university and is ranked one of the top universities in the world. With campuses in British Columbia’s three largest cities – Vancouver, Burnaby and Surrey – SFU has eight faculties, delivers almost 150 programs to over 35,000 students, and boasts more than 135,000 alumni in 130 countries around the world.


Simon Fraser University: Engaging Students. Engaging Research. Engaging Communities. 

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