University of Regina to recognize three, highly-deserving, honorary degree recipients during the 2022 Spring Convocation

News Release Release Date: June 7, 2022 1:30 p.m.

The University of Regina is granting honorary degrees, its most distinguished honour, to three deserving recipients during the annual Spring Convocation ceremonies on June 8, 9, and 10.

Colette Bourgonje will be awarded a Doctor of Laws honoris causa (LLD) in recognition of her incredible athletic accomplishments, and exceptional service to the community at large on Wednesday, June 8.

A Canadian Paralympic athlete, Bourgonje is one of Saskatchewan’s most decorated athletes. She has attended many para sports competitions around the world competing in both summer and winter sports. Representing Canada in seven winter Paralympic Games in sit skiing and three summer Paralympic Games as a wheelchair racer, she has brought home gold, silver, and bronze medals.

Bourgonje, who was in a life-changing car accident in high school, became the first graduate from the University of Saskatchewan’s College of Physical Education who used a wheelchair. After graduation, she worked as an elementary school teacher for many years in Saskatoon.

In 2017, Colette Bourgonje School was opened in the growing Saskatoon Rosewood neighbourhood. Bourgonje resides on a farm near Prince Albert and continues to coach cross country skiing and work as a substitute teacher. She was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 2019, the Canadian Paralympic Hall of Fame in 2019, and the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame in 2021. She continues to seek out and support young para-athletes in pursuit of their athletic dreams.

Brigitte Baptiste will be awarded a Doctor of Laws honoris causa (LLD) in recognition of her international reputation reflecting many years of accomplishments on Thursday, June 9.

As one of the world’s most influential environmental experts, Baptiste is committed to the preservation of land, conservation and the protection of endangered species in her home of Bogotá, Colombia. Whether Baptiste is speaking on environmental issues and biodiversity, representing the transgender voice for the rights of sexuality and other minorities, or combining the two, she is a role model at the forefront of her profession. She has received attention from national and international governments, for her work.

Transitioning in the 1990s when the LGBTQ2S+ community was far less visible, Baptiste challenged conservative notions of sexual identity. Baptiste continues to be sought out for her views on emerging concepts such as “queer ecology” and “green capitalism”.

Baptiste is a recipient of the Prince Claus Fund Award in 2018, the Fulbright Excellence Prize in 2018, the Exemplar Colombian Citizen Award in Environment in 2019, and was awarded a PhD honoris causa in Environmental Management from Unipaz (Instituto Universitario de la Paz) in Colombia in 2016. She served as director of the Alexander von Humboldt Institute, a world-renowned research center on biological resources from 2011 to 2019 and is currently the Chancellor of the University EAN, Colombia, a business school being transformed into a sustainability school under her guidance.

Dr. Saqib Shahab will be awarded a Doctor of Science honoris causa (DSc) in recognition of outstanding achievement in the pure and applied sciences on Friday, June 10.

As the province’s Chief Medical Health Officer (CMHO), Dr. Shahab has been on the front line in explaining the public health response to the pandemic in both scientific and human terms. His areas of special interest – vaccination programs, communicable disease control, environmental health, chronic disease prevention and pandemic planning – prepared him well for the leadership role he took on during the pandemic.

Dr. Shahab received his primary medical degree from Rawalpindi Medical College at the University of Punjab in1986, graduating at the top of his class. He is a Fellow in Public Health and Preventive Medicine of the Royal College of Physicians of Canada, and earned a Master of Public Health from Johns Hopkins University. He is a past chair of the Medical Health Officers Council of Saskatchewan and past president of the Saskatchewan Public Health Association.

Having assumed the role as Saskatchewan’s CMHO in 2012, Dr. Shahab is one of Canada’s longest serving CMHOs. 


The honorary degrees will be awarded at the University’s Spring Convocation ceremonies on June 8, 9, and 10 beginning at 2 p.m. each day in Gym 3 at the Centre for Kinesiology, Health, and Sport. Interviews with the honorary degree recipients can be arranged via the noted media contact.

About the University of Regina

The University of Regina—with campuses located on Treaty 4 and Treaty 6 territories, the ancestral lands of the Cree, Saulteaux, Dakota, Lakota and Nakoda nations and the homeland of the Métis—is a comprehensive, mid-sized university that traces its roots back to the creation of Regina College in 1911. Today, more than 16,000 students study within the University's 10 faculties, 25 academic departments/schools, 18 research centres and institutes, and three federated colleges (Campion College, First Nations University of Canada, and Luther College). The University of Regina has an established reputation for excellence and innovative programs that lead to undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral degrees.


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