When Dennis Fairall takes to the stage Tuesday to receive an honorary doctorate, he’ll be in familiar territory — the fieldhouse where the University of Windsor holds its Convocation ceremonies is named in honour of the long-time head coach of Lancer track and cross-country.
Fairall is one of the most decorated coaches in Canadian university history, having led teams to 25 national championships, and honoured 65 times as coach of the year by either Canadian Interuniversity Sport or Ontario University Athletics.
In addition to his University of Windsor coaching duties, Fairall enjoyed extensive international coaching experience, including as a member of the Team Canada staff for the 1989, 1995, 1997 and 1999 World University Games, and as head coach at the 2005 Pan American Junior Athletics Championships held at the University of Windsor, where Team Canada earned its highest medal count in the history of the event.
He is one of eight individuals who have made outstanding contributions in the areas of coaching and sport, social justice, literature, business, music, medicine, and law on whom the University of Windsor will confer honorary degrees during eight sessions of the its 107th Convocation ceremonies, May 30 through June 2 at the St. Denis Centre.
Joining Fairall in receiving honorary degrees are:
- writer, educator, and social activist Dionne Brand;
- Air Canada president Calin Rovinescu, chancellor of the University of Ottawa;
- senator and former Ontario cabinet minister Frances Lankin;
- Blue Rodeo frontman James Gordon (Jim) Cuddy;
- hematologist John G. Kelton, past dean of medicine and health sciences at McMaster University;
- former minister of state for multiculturalism Jean M. Augustine;
- lawyer Jean Teillet, one of the founders of the Métis Nation of Ontario.
Dionne Brand is an award-winning writer, professor, and social activist whose work reflects her interest in the politics surrounding gender, sexuality, class, and race. She has been involved in various labour and community organizations and programs, including the Black Education Project; the Immigrant Women’s Centre in Toronto; and the Ontario Federation of Labour. She also founded Our Lives, Canada’s first Black women’s newspaper.
Brand’s 1996 novel In Another Place, Not Here was shortlisted in 1997 for the Chapters/Books in Canada First Novel Award and the Trillium Book Award. Land to Light On (1997) won the Governor General’s Award for Poetry in 1997 and the Trillium Book Award in 1998. Her poetry collection thirsty (2002), won the Pat Lowther Memorial Award from the League of Canadian Poets in 2003 and was also nominated for the Griffin Poetry Prize and Trillium Book Award in 2003.
She has taught at the universities of York, Toronto, British Columbia, and Guelph, as well as at numerous writing programs across Canada. Brand was made a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 2006.
Calin Rovinescu is president and chief executive officer of Air Canada and chancellor of the University of Ottawa.
He had a 20-year career in corporate law in Canada and the United Kingdom as managing partner of the Montreal law firm Stikeman Elliott, where he advised enterprises in Canada, the U.S., and Europe on merger and acquisition transactions, corporate finance, privatizations and restructurings in various industries.
Since his appointment as Air Canada CEO in April 2009, he has guided the airline’s transformation to global expansion, improved customer satisfaction, and greater profitability, while overseeing the return to a surplus position of its $15 billion pension plan.
Air Canada was also recognized as the leading North American airline for five years consecutively by the leading global airline rating agency. As a result, in 2013, Report on Business magazine named him Canada’s best CEO.
Frances Lankin was appointed to the Canadian Senate in 2016 capping a long career in public service. She spent more than 10 years as the CEO of United Way Toronto after 11 years as the MPP for Beaches-Woodbine, including service as Ontario Minister of Government Services, Minister of Health and Long Term Care, and Minister of Economic Development and Trade.
She has contributed to a number of government bodies, including as a member of the Security Intelligence Review Committee, co-chair of the Blue Ribbon Committee on Federal Grants and Contributions, co-commissioner of the Commission for the Reform of Social Assistance in Ontario, and member of the Premier’s Advisory Council on Government Business Assets.
She currently serves as a board director for Hydro One, and chair of the Social Responsibility Committee for the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission. Lankin was the inaugural chair of the National NewsMedia Council and is a former chair of the Ontario Press Council.
Jim Cuddy asked for his first guitar when he was 10 because he wanted to be like Roy Rogers. He formed iconic Canadian band Blue Rodeo with high school friend Greg Keelor in 1984, following the pair’s early foray into song writing and recording in 1980.
Following a move to New York City in 1981, Cuddy and Keelor put an ad in The Village Voice seeking other musicians, and formed the band Fly to France, though they eventually returned to Toronto and teamed with fellow musicians Cleave Anderson and Bazil Donovan to form Blue Rodeo.
Cuddy has enjoyed more than three decades of musical success with Blue Rodeo, which has released 21 albums. In 2000, he and Keelor received the National Achievement Award at the annual SOCAN Awards, and both were made Officers of the Order of Canada in 2013, “for their contributions to Canadian music and for their support of various charitable causes.”
John G. Kelton is executive director of the Michael G. DeGroote Initiative for Innovation in Healthcare at McMaster University. He took the role after completing in June 2016 a highly successful 15-year term as dean of McMaster’s Faculty of Health Sciences and the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine.
Dr. Kelton has an active clinical practice as a hematologist for Hamilton Health Sciences, along with an internationally-recognized research program in platelet and bleeding disorders and has published extensively in this area with 15 original articles in the New England Journal of Medicine.
He has received numerous national and international awards and honours, including the 2015 Prix Galien Research Award; election to the American Association of Physicians, and the Royal Society of Canada; and a Lifelong Achievement Award from the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine’s Division of Geriatric Medicine and the Regional Geriatric Program Central.
Jean Augustine is an energetic advocate of social justice and in 1993, she became the first Black woman elected to the Parliament of Canada and the first Black female cabinet member. She served as parliamentary secretary to the prime minister, and as secretary of state and minister of state for multiculturalism and the status of women.
As an MP she introduced a motion, which passed unanimously, to have February proclaimed Black History Month in Canada. As Ontario’s first Fairness Commissioner, she was responsible for ensuring that qualified foreign-trained professionals could obtain the required licenses in the province.
She has served on the board of the Hospital for Sick Children, and served as the National President of the Congress of Black Women of Canada. She is a member of the Order of Canada, and has received the Canadian Black Achievement Award and the YMCA Woman of Distinction award.
Jean Teillet is a former partner to the law firm of Pape Salter Teillet LLP in Vancouver and Toronto. Her legal career has focused on Aboriginal and reproductive rights and for many years she was legal counsel for the Association of Ontario Midwives and the Midwives Association of BC.
She is currently the chief negotiator for the Stó:lō Xwexwilmexw, a coalition of six Stó:lō bands who are negotiating a treaty in the lower Fraser Valley in BC. Teillet was counsel at the Supreme Court of Canada in Pamajewon, Powley, Taku River and Beckman and acted for interveners in many other cases.
Teillet is an adjunct professor of law at the University of British Columbia where she teaches a course in Métis Law. The author of Métis Law in Canada, she is currently writing a popular history of the Métis Nation, which will be published by Harper Collins in 2018.