Last night at Koerner Hall in Toronto, the University of New Brunswick celebrated its 225th year by awarding five honourary degrees to outstanding Canadians. Each honouree gave an impassioned talk about his or her field of expertise. Alan MacGibbon, a business leader and the current managing partner and chief executive at Deloitte Canada, spoke about the coming economic uncertainties and the opportunity Canada has to create business models that are responsible and sustainable. Olympic athlete Clara Hughes was also honoured, and talked about the value of sport and its power to inspire.
Purdy Crawford, an esteemed lawyer and businessman, discussed Canada’s great potential to be a leading nation in the world. Carolyn Acker, the founder of Pathways to Education Canada, shared her thoughts on the possibility for education to empower and create new pathways for underprivileged people in this country. Finally, former National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations Phil Fontaine gave a speech about the place of reconciliation in Canada, and the goal Canadians should have to close the health and well-being gap between First Nations people and the rest of Canada.
New Brunswick came to Toronto for the evening because Ontario is home to a great number of UNB alumni and donors. The university is also seeking to create awareness about its history and offerings outside of the Atlantic provinces. The university was founded in 1785 before Canada was formed and even before the U.S. had its first President. Loyalists from south of the border carved UNB out of the wilds of New Brunswick with the goal of bringing higher education to the local population. Since then, the university has established this nation’s first engineering school, as well as a world-renowned institute of biomedical engineering, among other top-ranked programs. The university now has 13,000 students who come from 100 countries.