University of Regina to award three honorary degrees at the 41st Spring Convocation

News Release Release Date: June 2, 2015 10:15 a.m.

Three exceptional individuals will receive honorary doctorate degrees at the University of Regina’s 41st Spring Convocation ceremonies, which will take place June 3-5 at the Conexus Arts Centre.

On June 3, Saskatchewan businessman and community leader Donald Wayne Black will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.

On the second day of Convocation, June 4, former Parliamentary sergeant-at-arms and current Canadian ambassador to Ireland Kevin Vickers will be awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.

On the final and third day of Convocation, Ann Blair Thomas Callahan, a Saskatchewan-born educator, nurse and advocate for Aboriginal health, will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.

“Our three recipients have made unique and longstanding contributions to our country, and the University of Regina is pleased to be able to recognize and honour each of them,” said President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Regina, Dr. Vianne Timmons.

Honorary degrees are the highest honour the University can bestow. Recent recipients of University of Regina honorary degrees include: avid athlete and community-builder Ted Jaleta; prominent businessman and patron of the arts William (Bill) Shurniak; Professor Emeritus of English at the University of Regina Ken Mitchell; Regina-based performer, writer, director and communicator Jean Freeman; and Canadian singer/songwriter k.d. lang.  Other recipients include: former Saskatchewan premiers Tommy Douglas, Allan Blakeney and Roy Romanow; former Saskatchewan Lieutenant Governors Sylvia Fedoruk and Lynda Haverstock; hockey great Gordie Howe; The Princess Royal, Princess Anne; and dozens of other outstanding researchers, writers, artists, philanthropists, humanitarians and leaders.


Donald Wayne Black
Black grew up in Regina and studied accounting for a short time at the Regina campus of the University of Saskatchewan. He then joined local investment firm Houston Willoughby as an accounting clerk. He soon recognized he wanted to be a broker, and discovered he was good at it, and at leading people. He became president of the company at age 32.

Black later helped lead the successful turnaround of Saskatchewan Government Insurance and then Pioneer Life Insurance after its sister company, Pioneer Trust, had collapsed. After a brief stint as a car dealer, in 1992 Don became CEO of a small Regina-based investment management firm. He transformed it into Greystone Capital Management, now one of Canada’s largest independent investment firms, with approximately $35 billion of assets under management.

Black has been honoured as a life member of the Friends of the RCMP and associate member of the RCMP Veterans Association. He is also a member of the Order of Canada and the Saskatchewan Order of Merit, among other honours.

Ann Blair Thomas Callahan
Callahan was born on the Peepeekisis First Nation and with the support of positive role models she completed high school and then became one of the first Aboriginal nurses to graduate from the Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg. Callahan began working at the hospital and was soon appointed head nurse of the Women’s Pavilion. She left to coordinate health care for an agency delivering services to people in need. Later, she moved to Red River Community College, where she was an instructor and academic counselor.

After retiring from nursing in 1996, she earned a bachelor’s degree with a major in psychology, and then a master’s degree in interdisciplinary studies. Throughout her life she has sought to improve the health of Aboriginal people and encourage Aboriginals to enter the healthcare field. She has also lectured widely on her residential school experience.

Callahan has received many honours and awards, including the naming of the Critical Services building at the Health Sciences Centre in her honour, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Aboriginal Nurses Association of Canada.

Kevin Michael Vickers
Vickers was appointed Canada’s Ambassador to Ireland after a distinguished career with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and as sergeant-at-arms of the House of Commons.

His 29-year career with the RCMP included his appointment as Inspector in the Acadian Peninsula district in New Brunswick where he helped resolve the confrontation over native fishing rights at Burnt Church in 1999-2000. He has been recognized for leading Canadian police force investigations into the international drug trade, and for his work in developing a strategy for the protection of children from sexual exploitation on the Internet.  

Vickers was appointed director of Security Operations for the House of Commons in 2005, becoming sergeant-at-arms a year later. In January 2013 he skillfully resolved a potentially difficult situation when 3,000 Idle No More protesters gathered on the Hill. In October 2014, Vickers and his staff stopped an armed gunman attack on Parliament Hill.

Vickers is the recipient of the Queen’s Jubilee Medal, Canada 125 Medal and RCMP Long Service Medal. He was bestowed an honorary degree from Mount Allison University earlier this year.


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