Royal Roads University continued its tradition of honouring individuals who have made significant contributions to the community during its Spring 2019 Convocation and installation of the new president.
Dr. Philip Steenkamp, who was appointed as president and vice-chancellor of RRU on Jan. 1, took the university president’s oath from the Honourable Janet Austin, Lieutenant Governor of B.C., in front of 648 graduates, friends and family.
“It is a genuine pleasure to share the stage with these graduates as I am installed as president and vice-chancellor of Royal Roads University,” Steenkamp said in a media release. “Our graduates are both shaped by and shape this university and its impact on British Columbia, Canada and the world. As certain as I am that Royal Roads is the university of the future, I am even more certain these graduates will build that future with wisdom and care.”
The university also conferred an honorary Doctor of Laws degree on Hereditary Chief Burt XEMXIMELEK Charles, a former elected chief of the the Scia’new (Beecher Bay) First Nation, for his life’s work. Charles has exemplified the values of leadership and reconciliation for more than 60 years, and has been been a tireless advocate for Indigenous Peoples not only on his traditional lands, but on the national stage as well. Charles was first elected to the Scia’new Council in 1958, then as Chief in 1967, a position he held for more than 20 years. He also helped form the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs in 1969, and was officially recognized as Hereditary Chief of the Scia’new Nation in 1972. Charles, who built the Cheanuh Marina and Campground, was a driving force in obtaining the right to hold a mortgage and obtain Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation insurance, road improvements and fishing rights for Indigenous peoples.
The Victoria Women in Need Victoria Community Cooperative (WIN) was acknowledged as well with the Chancellor’s Community Achievement Award. WIN was created in 1991 by friends Charlotte Semple, Carole Fast and Michelle Young to support survivors of unhealthy or abusive relationships. WIN, which became a non-profit community co-operative in 2005, accepts donations of used items to use and sell at its five resale shops. WIN also teaches employment skills, funding for education, training, and entrepreneurship, helps with childcare costs and offers programs to learn communications and interpersonal skills. WIN’s executive director, Clare Yazganoglu, said the organization was honoured to receive the award from RRRU, and the university’s motto of “living our learning” has always been an integral part of the organization’s philosophy. WIN was also recently acknowledged as 2019 Non-Profit of the Year by the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce.
Kathleen Birney, RRU Chancellor and chair of the board of governors, said the honorees have helped build communities that are healthier, more resilient and more inclusive through their legacies and continuing work. “It’s a privilege to recognize and celebrate XEMXIMELEK and WIN at convocation,” Birney said in a media release.
The ceremonies at 9:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. included graduates from the Faculty of Social and Applied Sciences, the College of Interdisciplinary Studies and the Faculty of management.