Mount Allison has a long tradition of offering honorary degrees at Convocation to individuals who reflect the vision and values of our community.
Honorary degrees are awarded to those who are nationally or internationally recognized in their fields, those who have demonstrated service to Mount Allison or the wider community, or prominent public persons.
Six distinguished Canadians will receive honorary degrees during the 2019 Convocation ceremonies:
- David Booth ('84) — retired Chief Executive Officer of BackOffice Associates, LLC, former member of the Mount Allison Board of Regents, and philanthropist
- Andrea Colfer — Elder and Knowledge Keeper in the territory of Mi'kma'ki
- Drew Hayden Taylor — award-winning Ojibway playwright, author, columnist, filmmaker, and lecturer
- Sharon Johnston, CC, DStJ — former Vice-Regal Consort, mental health and wellness advocate, and author
- Sheldon Levy — special advisor to the federal Minister of Small Business and Export Promotion, former CEO of NEXT Canada, and former President of Ryerson University
- Marguerite Maillet, OC, ONB — award-winning teacher and researcher in Acadian literature, co-founder of children's publisher Bouton d'or Acadie, author
David Booth recently retired as Chief Executive Officer of BackOffice Associates, LLC. He served in many key positions in his over 30-year career in the industry, including President of Global Sales and Marketing at Computer Science Corp (CSC), Hewlett-Packard (HP) Corporation's senior vice-president and general manager of the Americas Technology Solutions Group, President of Compaq Canada, and regional vice-president and general manager of Digital Equipment Corporation.
Originally from New Brunswick, he holds a Bachelor of Commerce from Mount Allison University and completed the Lessons in Leadership Executive Development Program at Harvard University. He is a founding member of the Mount Allison University National Advisory Council, served as a member of the Mount Allison University Board of Regents for over a decade, was a lead volunteer on the Alumni Field revitalization project, and led a campaign that generated $1 million to establish the James Rogers Student Athlete Awards at Mount Allison.
Andrea Colfer has spent her life working to support First Nations peoples' mental health and wellness throughout the Atlantic Region and beyond. From Elsipogtog First Nation, she is a traditional and well-respected Elder and Knowledge Keeper in the territory of Mi'kma'ki. She served as a health support co-ordinator for the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, helping to provide support for family members and survivors during the inquiry. She has also supported former Indigenous residential school students and their families by connecting former students and descendants with mental health providers and traditional caregivers and healers.
A fluent speaker and teacher of the Mi'kmaq language, she is part of the Mi'kmaq Wolastoq Elder Council and is called upon by Elders across Turtle Island (North America) for her knowledge in land-based education, Indigenous art history and language, and in historical trauma counselling. As a carrier of the Mi'kmaq Hieroglyphics knowledge and translation, she has also served as a resource for education departments throughout the Maritimes and has begun training with Newfoundland Elders to reclaim traditional knowledge. At Mount Allison, she has been an essential part of reconciliation and educational efforts through the Elder-in-Residence program.
Drew Hayden Taylor
Drew Hayden Taylor has worn many hats in his literary career, from performing stand-up comedy at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC to being artistic director of Canada's premiere Indigenous theatre company, Native Earth Performing Arts. An Ojibway from the Curve Lake First Nations in Ontario, he is a playwright, a journalist/columnist, a short-story writer, novelist, television scriptwriter, and has worked on many documentaries exploring the Indigenous experience. Most notably, he wrote and directed Redskins, Tricksters and Puppy Stew, a documentary on Indigenous humour for the National Film Board of Canada. More recently, he co-wrote and narrated Searching for Winnitou, a tongue-in-cheek look at the German fascination with North American Indigenous culture.
Through many of his books, including his non-fiction collection four-volume series titled Funny, You Don't Look Like One, to his Me Funny, Me Sexy, and Me Artsy books, he has tried to educate and inform the world about issues that reflect, celebrate, and interfere in the lives of Canada's First Nations. The winner of numerous writing awards, Mr. Taylor is looking forward to the launch of his 33rd book this fall, a novel titled Chasing Painted Horses.
Sharon Johnston, CC, DStJ
Dr. Sharon Johnston began her career in Kingston, ON as a psychiatric occupational therapist at Beechgrove, a treatment centre for young children with learning and behavioural problems. She went on to earn her Master of Science and PhD in Rehabilitation Science from McGill University. In 1999, she began a new adventure running Chatterbox Farm, a 100-acre farm and small horse-boarding business in Waterloo, ON, which she managed for more than a decade.
As Vice-Regal Consort at Rideau Hall between 2010-17, she continued her life-long work of destigmatizing mental illness. As an honorary witness to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission she has worked to advance reconciliation and the rebuilding of relationships with Indigenous peoples in Canada. In 2015 she published her first novel, Matrons and Madams, a fictional account of life in southwestern Alberta during the post-Great War era, part of a trilogy in progress with all royalties going towards the mental health research fund at the Royal Ottawa Hospital. She was appointed Honorary Captain (Navy) for Military Personnel Command of the Canadian Armed Forces in 2016 for her work in supporting military families and was named a Companion of the Order of Canada in 2010.
Sheldon Levy is special advisor to the federal Minister of Small Business and Export Promotion and the former CEO of NEXT Canada, a national non-profit focused on increasing national prosperity through innovation and entrepreneurship. He previously served in senior roles at a number of post-secondary institutions in Ontario, most recently as President and Vice-Chancellor of Ryerson University from 2005 to 2015, where he fostered student innovation. He developed the Digital Media Zone (DMZ), an early-stage incubator for student entrepreneurs, which has become an international success, and is the founder of and advisor to Ryerson Futures Inc., an accelerator that has exported the DMZ concept to Calgary, Mumbai, and Vietnam.
He served as deputy minister of the Ontario Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development for two years, from 2015 to 2017. Under his leadership, the ministry delivered both employment and training programs that met the changing needs of the province's labour market and a high-quality, accessible post-secondary education. He was responsible for drafting the framework aimed at ensuring the survival of universities in more remote parts of the province.
Marguerite Maillet, OC, ONB
A teacher and researcher, Dr. Marguerite Maillet has made incredible contributions to Acadian literature throughout her lifetime. Her work is considered required reading for any student of Acadian literature. She began her teaching career in 1945 and taught at colleges and secondary schools across New Brunswick before joining the faculty of l'Université de Moncton in 1973. She served as chair of Acadian studies at the university from 1987 until her retirement in 1990. She holds two bachelor degrees, in classics and philosophy; two master's degrees, in sacred sciences and in lettres françaises; and earned her PhD in Lettres françaises from University of Ottawa in 1982.
After her retirement from teaching, Dr. Maillet began a second career in 1996, co-founding Bouton d'or Acadie, a publisher of children's literature in French, English, Mik'maq, and Passamaquody. She has written several illustrated books for children and adapted a number of classic children's tales for publication and continues to volunteer her time to read to young students. She was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2002 and a member of the Order of New Brunswick in 2008.
Past honorary degree recipients