Convocation 2014: Honorary Doctor of Letters Citation by John Wadland

Convocation 2014: Honorary Doctor of Letters Citation by John Wadland


[John Wadland] Mr. Chancellor, Mr. Chancellor,
Mr. President Emeritus, Colleagues, graduating students, and family members assembled here
today. Very seldom does a university professor have the great privilege of introducing one
of his former students for an honorary degree, but this grace has fallen upon me today. Shelagh
Grant, at the time already a registered nurse and a mother of 3 lovely children turned up
as a student in my Canadian Studies course in 1975, her first at Trent University. This
began a warm friendship spanning now almost 4 decades which witnessed her completion of
both undergraduate and graduate degrees in Canadian Studies and History. Subsequently
among her many other roles Shelagh Grant has served as an agile Professor and research
associate at Trent, including even a return to the very classroom she served as an instructor
in that same first course. But Shelagh Grant’s influence reaches far beyond the halls of
Trent University. A fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographic Society, she is also the author
of 3 vitally important books, Sovereignty or Security 1988, Arctic Justice 2002, and
most recently Polar Imperative published to national international acclaim in 2010. Indeed
Polar Imperative was nominated for both the Writers Trust of Canada’s Shaughnessy Cohen
Prize for Political Writing and the Canadian Historical Associations Sir John A. MacDonald
Award for the best book in Canadian history. Polar Imperative received the Lionel Gelbert
Prize for the best english language book on global affairs. The
J.W Dafoe book prize for non fiction and the Canadian Authors Association Lila Common Award
for Canadian history. All of Shelagh Grant’s titles focus our attention on the Arctic,
each with a compelling argument to recognize the responsibility of all, and particularly
all southern Canadians to understand the richness and ecological complexity of a region that
constitutes over 40% of the nations land mass. This region is also home to the very special
worlds of the indigenous First Peoples, so threatened by illogic of insatiable development
that understands value in what we dig out of the ground and from under the sea, over
the health of the environment that sustains us. Shelagh Grant reminds us of the extend
to which the United States has been involved historically in protecting the high Arctic
and how we southern Canadians have been complacent for too long allowing our ignorance of this
beautiful space and of our fellow citizens, it’s Inuit inhabitants to exist in a kind
of out there limbo unrewarded by our education system that privileges the apparently pragmatic
over the rather more demanding understanding.Her work draws attention to the impact of global
warming on the Arctic. In particular demonstrating the myriad of reasons why Canadian legislators
must do more to support the international corus, endorsing stronger measures to reduce
green house gas emissions. Her work explains how global warming threatens Canadian sovereignty
in the Arctic making accessible in summer, a previously all but inaccessible ice bound
northwest passage to an international shipping industry solely uninterested in Canada’s tenuous
historic claims to a territorial straight through the island Arcipelago. Shelagh Grant
demonstrates conclusively that legal boundaries are no longer sufficient to protect our heritage
from a world grown increasingly greedy. She leads Canadians and especially the kind of
young people who we have come here to celebrate today with the challenge of leading the world
by our example in a renewed commitment to understanding that the health of the Arctic
and the well being of those who know it as there homeland is essential to the health
of the planet and our collective future. Mr. Chancellor I have the honour to present to
you for the degree of Doctor of Letters Honorus Kowza, Shelagh Don Grant.

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