Three extraordinary people receive honorary doctorates
Special Convocation honoured Chantal Kreviazuk, Dr. Denis Mukwege and Joseph Stern
WINNIPEG, MB – The University of Winnipeg held a Special Convocation ceremony on March 26, 2014 to honour three extraordinary individuals – singer-songwriter and philanthropist Chantal Kreviazuk; humanitarian and champion of women’s rights, Dr. Denis Mukwege; and Joseph Stern, whose commitment to justice, development and good governance has made a significant difference to communities both in Canada and abroad.
“These extraordinary individuals are using their skills and talents to raise awareness and improve the lives of others,” said Dr. Lloyd Axworthy, President and Vice-Chancellor, UWinnipeg. “Dr. Mukwege’s dedicated work in helping women and girls overcome the violence they have experienced is profound. Chantal is one of the most accomplished graduates of our Collegiate and was instrumental in launching our Opportunity Fund, which is allowing hundreds of Winnipeg inner city youth to follow their educational dreams. Joe has served Canada with distinction in helping the world’s dispossessed and has played a critical role in the establishment of our Master’s degree in Development Practice. This trio stands as role models to all of us, and most especially to the next generation of youth and students. We are proud to have them as part of the UWinnipeg community.”
CHANTAL KREVIAZUK: Chantal Kreviazuk is one of the most notable graduates of the University of Winnipeg high school on campus – the Collegiate (Class of 1990). She has become one of Canada’s leading female artists, an internationally respected Juno award-winning singer-songwriter and musician, classically trained pianist, actress, movie producer, philanthropist and humanitarian. In December 2006, Kreviazuk returned to her UWinnipeg roots to help launch the Opportunity Fund in conjunction with Dr. Lloyd Axworthy, President and Vice-Chancellor. In keeping with her longstanding belief in the power of education, Kreviazuk’s generous support for the Opportunity Fund helps Indigenous and new immigrant youth, and other students underrepresented in post-secondary education, by removing financial barriers. The impact of the Opportunity Fund on individual lives is immediate. As of February 2014, just over $3 million has been raised and 1,443 fast track bursaries have been awarded to students in financial need, resulting in more than 238 UWinnipeg graduates to date. The University of Winnipeg is honoured to award Chantal Kreviazuk an Honorary Doctor of Letters.
DR. DENIS MUKWEGE: Dr. Denis Mukwege was initially inspired to become a doctor while visiting patients alongside his father, a Pentecostal pastor. In 1998 he co-founded the Panzi Hospital in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo city of Bukavu, just as war in the region was breaking out. It was a war that would see rape widely used as what Dr. Mukwege once described to a New York Times columnist as “an act of terrorism.” The Panzi hospital is now known as a refuge sought by tens of thousands of women physically damaged by sexual violence. While he uses his medical skills to heal the bodies of victims, Dr. Mukwege is also working to repair the social and political issues behind the assaults. The numerous awards Dr. Mukwege has received include the UN Human Rights Prize, the Daily Trust African of the Year award, the Clinton Global Citizen Award, and the Olof Palme Prize. His is also often named as a frontrunner for the Nobel Peace Prize. The University of Winnipeg honours Dr. Mukwege with an Honorary Doctor of Laws.
JOSEPH STERN: A graduate of United College (now The University of Winnipeg), Joseph Stern excelled in the federal public service, managing the refugee determination process and helping to shape Canadian refugee policy. As Chairman of Canada’s Refugee Status Advisory Committee (RSAC), Stern contributed a humane and progressive voice to the international conversation on how the democratic West can – and should – help the world’s dispossessed and persecuted. He established Canada as the first refugee-receiving country to recognize that sexual orientation and the particular vulnerability of women may give rise to a well-founded fear of persecution. Some of Stern’s projects have taken him to the poorest, most desperate and sometimes most dangerous parts of the world. After the Rwandan genocide, Stern led a mission on behalf of the Government of Canada to that country to assist in the process of establishing rule of law. More recently, Stern became an important figure on campus, significantly contributing to the establishment of UWinnipeg’s new Master’s in Development Practice (MDP) in Indigenous Development. The University of Winnipeg honours Joseph Stern with an Honorary Doctor of Laws.
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Diane Poulin, Senior Communications Specialist, The University of Winnipeg
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