SFU announces 2021 Honorary Degree recipients

March 25, 2021

A world-renowned climate and human-rights activist, two public-health champions, and an Emmy-winning television and movie star from Burnaby are among the 13 distinguished individuals who will receive honorary degrees from Simon Fraser University in 2021. Honorary degrees will be conferred at the June and October Convocation ceremonies.

June Honorary Degree recipients: 

Andreas Dracopoulos is dedicated to the work of philanthropy in both his public and private life. He is co-president of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF), which has made nearly 5,000 grants to non-profits in more than 130 countries over 25 years.

Credit: Mark Seliger

An award-winning television and film actor, Michael J. Fox is a tireless advocate in the fight to find a cure for Parkinson’s disease. Through his foundation, he is helping lead the charge on research and therapeutic development toward a future without Parkinson’s.

Victor Hayes, a pioneer in the field of information technology and communication, played a critical role that led to the success of Wi-Fi. Its creation launched a multi-billion-dollar industry, fundamentally changing the way people work, study and live.

An international foundation executive, philanthropist and charter student at SFU, Herb M. James has, through his foundation, spent more than half a century providing free hearing screening and treatment, including surgeries, to deaf and hard-of-hearing children in developing countries.

Wally Oppal, a former judge and B.C. attorney general, has led five high-profile commissions on policing and is a groundbreaking leader in B.C.’s South Asian community. He has made significant contributions to law, community safety and justice for society’s most vulnerable.

Maria Ressa is an award-winning journalist and the co-founder of Rappler, the top digital news site that is leading the fight for press freedom in the Philippines. She has endured political harassment and arrests by the Duterte government in her battle for truth and democracy.

Author, professor and researcher, Malinda S. Smith is a world-renowned political scientist, a tireless advocate of equitable, inclusive, decolonial and accountable approaches in higher education, and the inaugural Vice-Provost of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at the University of Calgary.

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s first female Chief Public Health Officer, is a leading expert in immunization, infectious disease and emergency preparedness. She led the fight against the 2003 SARS outbreaks, and is leading the fight in the current opioid crisis and COVID-19 pandemic.

Siila (Sheila) Watt-Cloutier is a respected Inuit leader and 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.

October Honorary Degree recipients:

Dr. John Blatherwick is a trailblazing public health leader and widely recognized as one of Canada’s longest-serving medical health officers. His achievements include responding to the SARS epidemic and establishing the first non-smoking in the workplace by-law.

Catherine Clement, an award-winning community history curator, exhibition designer and dedicated volunteer, has been fundamental in uncovering and sharing stories of Vancouver’s historic Chinatown and Chinese Canadian history, shedding light on the lives of people from marginalized communities.

Margo Kane is a renowned interdisciplinary artist and a major 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.

A lawyer, humanitarian, global Canadian and consensus-builder, Nurjehan Mawani is a champion of human rights, inclusion and gender equity. Her groundbreaking work in law and policy transformed refugee determination to recognize gender-related persecution in Canada and around the world.

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