King’s honours five exceptional individuals in May

King’s honours five exceptional individuals in May

Five exceptional individuals will receive honours from the University of King’s College this spring. As part of the long-awaited, in-person celebrations for the classes of 2020 and 2021, musician Chris Luedecke, known to his legion of fans as Old Man Luedecke, will be honoured on May 6. Accomplished journalist and King’s graduate Sherri Borden Colley, BJ(Hons)’97, who had the conferral of her honorary degree postponed by the pandemic in 2020, will also be recognized on May 6, though circumstances require that her degree be conferred at a later date. 

During Encaenia for the Class of 2022 at the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium on May 26, honours will be conferred on Gordon S. Earle, BA’63, who drafted the first Nova Scotia Human Rights Act and was the first Black Nova Scotian elected to parliament; on John K.F. Irving who has been instrumental, as owner of Acadia Broadcasting, in the continued delivery of local news in communities in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and northern Ontario; and Janet Hathaway, in recognition of her years of service to the college as its university librarian and archivist. 

“We are overjoyed to resume in-person ceremonies to acknowledge the accomplishments of our students. Alongside our respect and admiration for all that they have triumphed through, we are pleased to be honouring members of our broader community who exemplify the commitment to community and culture, social justice and education that is fundamental to our mission at King’s,” said King’s President William Lahey. “We are delighted to welcome a new cohort to our alumni community and to celebrate those who sacrificed their in-person graduation for the safety of all.”

May 6, In-person ceremonies for the classes of 2020 & 2021  

Sherri Borden Colley  

Journalist Sherri Borden Colley, BJ(Hons)’97, has built her reputation on a foundation of integrity and trust, by telling stories that matter to Nova Scotians. Over the course of her career she’s amassed a remarkable portfolio of work, filing more than 3,000 stories for print and broadcast mediums. Strong personal convictions and a commitment to reporting excellence have led Borden Colley time and again to write about issues involving justice, race, culture and human rights. Her work consistently demonstrates the power of journalism to do good. 

During 21 years with the Chronicle Herald newspaper, Borden Colley reported on lawsuits, plane crashes and wrongful convictions, while carving out her particular specialty: giving voice to African Nova Scotians. She tells stories that wouldn’t otherwise be told, making all her subjects feel represented and heard. She personifies the power of a single journalist to make a significant difference in the lives of many. 

It was Borden Colley who, more than 60 years later, resurfaced the story of Viola Desmond’s civil rights action in 1946. Desmond’s story had largely fallen from the public consciousness until Borden Colley interviewed Wanda Robson, Desmond’s sister, in 2010 and wrote a series of articles about Desmond. In the wake of those articles, Desmond was posthumously pardoned by the Lieutenant-Governor of Nova Scotia, a Halifax-Dartmouth ferry was named after her and her image was eventually selected to appear on the Canadian $10 bill. Borden Colley was recognized for her contributions to Viola Desmond’s renaissance by receiving a Canadian Association of Journalists Award nomination in 2010. 

Borden Colley has given back to King’s in multiple ways. She’s taught a course called News Media and the Courts within the School of Journalism and acted as a valued member of the journalism school’s advisory board. Consistent with her giving nature, her King’s colleagues praise Borden Colley’s dedication and generosity with students, faculty and staff. 

For covering so many of the most important stories in Nova Scotia’s recent history and for continuing to do so with clarity and dedication, journalist Sherri Borden Colley will receive a Doctor of Civil Law as a member of the Class of 2020 (honoris causa). Read the original announcement.  

 Although Borden Colley’s honorary degree was announced and accepted in 2020, it will be formally conferred at a later date.  

Chris “Old Man” Luedecke 

Chris “Old Man” Luedecke discovered music after university, when he says he “found the banjo and fell in love.”  

Luedecke’s lyrics are complex, both self-reflective and world-reflective. He is known for memorable melodies that charm and haunt, stretching the bluegrass strings of his signature instrument into unfamiliar musical genres. He has released seven studio albums to date, filled with songs that trace a deeply personal history of love, work, art, family, friendship, religion, and politics that appeal to diverse audiences across age groups, provinces and nations.  

Born in Toronto and long resident in Chester, N.S., today Luedecke is a well-loved Nova Scotian troubadour. The lyrics of many of his songs evoke an intense sense of place, often distinctly Nova Scotian. Consequently, his music has become a soundtrack of sorts for countless individuals and families from the region. It is perhaps fitting that, in 2020 when Luedecke found himself unable to tour and play shows due to the Covid-19 pandemic, he found work in another industry inseparable from the cultural identity of Nova Scotia, the fishery.   

The titles of his songs suggest their range and appeal, while at the same time hinting at the bespoke blend of funny, piquant and poignant wordplay that make his songs instantly recognizable and universally applicable: “Jonah and the Whale” (2012); “Low on the Hog” (2015); “Palazzo of Pain” (2018); and “Yodelady” (2015). 

In tours and performances, Luedecke has collaborated with numerous musicians and groups locally, nationally and internationally, including Symphony Nova Scotia and Rose Cousins. In 2009, Luedecke won the Juno Award in the category of Roots & Traditional Album of the Year: Solo, for his album Proof of Love. He won the category again in 2011 for My Hands are on Fire and Other Love Songs. He is also the recipient of multiple East Coast Music Awards.  

Luedecke has visited King’s regularly through his career. These visits include numerous exclusive September concerts to welcome students during Orientation Week. He was also the extremely popular guest narrator for “A King’s Christmas 2019,” in collaboration with the Chapel Choir.  

For his exceptional contribution to the music and culture of Nova Scotia, Chris “Old Man” Luedecke will receive a Doctor of Civil Law (honoris causa). 

May 26, Encaenia 

Gordon Sinclair Earle  

Gordon Sinclair Earle, BA’63, is a highly distinguished graduate of King’s: the first recipient of the Prince Scholarship for African Nova Scotian students after it was established in 1959, Earle went on to become a trailblazer in the fields of human rights and public administration.  

Earle’s father impressed upon his sons the importance of an education. His hard work at Queen Elizabeth High School meant that when the University of King’s College introduced a scholarship for an African Nova Scotian student, he emerged as the top candidate. “I was the first person to be awarded the Prince Scholarship,” he said in a 2021 interview. “As I recall, I think the powers that be sought me out. They must have checked the records and found that I was a fairly accomplished student. So they came after me.” Earle’s decision to come to King’s as a Prince Scholar made him one of the first African Nova Scotians to attend the university.   

 During the late 1960s and early 1970s, Nova Scotia was one of several provinces that embraced a new era of social justice and accountability in government and public administration. Though it was early in his career, Earle played a foundational role in this process. As Nova Scotia’s chief human rights officer and the first and sole employee of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission, Earle drafted Nova Scotia’s first Human Rights Act resulting in statutory protection for human rights in the province.  

Earle worked closely with former King’s president Dr. H.D. Smith when Smith became Nova Scotia’s first ombudsman. Appointed to the role of assistant ombudsman, Earle helped to establish that office in the province and played a crucial role in its early successes. He was among the first African Nova Scotians or persons of African descent to serve in such a high-ranking and important role in Nova Scotia’s civil service.  

Earle became Canada’s first African Canadian ombudsman when he was appointed ombudsman for Manitoba in 1982 and served two six-year terms in that leadership position until 1994. There he monitored inquest recommendations made under the Fatality Inquiries Act and handled access to information complaints after the Freedom of Information Act was applied to Manitoba government departments and agencies in 1988.  

Earle returned to Nova Scotia to be appointed by Premier John Savage to the position of deputy minister of housing and consumer affairs. He was the first deputy minister of African descent in the history of Nova Scotia’s civil service. 

After retiring from the public service, Earle entered politics as a candidate for the New Democratic Party in the riding of Halifax West in the federal election of 1997 under the leadership of Alexa McDonough, DCL’95. He was elected and continued to break new ground, becoming the first African Nova Scotian to sit in the House of Commons. While in parliament he was critic for the portfolios of Multiculturalism, Citizenship and Immigration, Citizenship and Immigration, Indian Affairs and Northern Development, National Defence and Veterans Affairs. He remained active in politics for the next decade, contesting elections in 2000, 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2011. 

Earle was one of those to call publicly for a public inquiry into abuse at the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children. Such an inquiry was subsequently established by Premier Stephen MacNeil. Earle was also one of the first to call upon the federal government for an apology for the racist treatment of No. 2 Construction Battalion members during and following their service in the First World War. The federal government has announced that an official apology will be delivered on July 9 of this year. 

Earle is a person of substance and accomplishment in all his endeavors and King’s has benefitted greatly from his support and engagement over the years. He was awarded the Judge J. Elliot Hudson Distinguished Alumni Award by the King’s Alumni Association in 1999. In 2018 he was in attendance when it was announced that the Prince Scholarship was to be re-established. Three years later, he shared his thoughts about his time at King’s in the 1960s and the changes that are overdue: 

“All schools, including the universities, need to do a better job. We have African Heritage Month and during that month there is a flurry of things that focus on Black people. But that should be throughout the year as a normal part of what is taught and discussed.” 

Committed to excellence even in leisure, Earle holds a black belt in karate and was the founder of the Hammonds Plains Karate Club. 

As one of the most distinguished, accomplished and inspiring graduates of the University of King’s College and for his substantial contributions to social justice and governmental accountability in the province of Nova Scotia, Gordon Sinclair Earle will be awarded a Doctor of Civil Law (honoris causa). 

John Keillor Farrer Irving

As the President of Ocean Capital Holdings, John Keillor Farrer Irving leads a range of businesses that span construction, real estate, industrial distribution and media. Irving holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Business Administration from Harvard University and until 2017, in addition to leading Ocean Capital Holdings, he was a director of Irving Oil Limited, the company founded by his grandfather, K.C. Irving. Depending on who you ask, any one of the companies Irving has run or been affiliated with can be credited with making a substantial positive impact on communities spread across Canada—be it through the sensitive restoration of historic buildings undertaken by Commercial Properties Limited, or the many jobs and important industrial contracts created through OSCO Construction Group. 

Irving’s impact on Canadian culture and small communities is perhaps most evident in his leadership of Acadia Broadcasting, a company with ten FM radio stations in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia and five in northern Ontario, along with an online, business news publication covering the Maritimes. Acadia Broadcasting’s media form a vital and increasingly rare network delivering local news, sports and entertainment radio to less densely-populated regions—communities often poorly-served by the trend toward concentrating news and reporting out of major centers. 

Through his ownership of local media outlets, Irving is supporting the next generation of journalists. Regional media outlets not only make the communities they serve stronger, but also open young people’s eyes to the power of media at an early age, connecting them to their own communities’ stories. The presence of Acadia Broadcasting throughout Atlantic Canada has also enhanced the educational experiences and employment prospects available to journalism students here: numerous students from King’s have interned at stations owned by Acadia Broadcasting and it is an important employer of the college’s journalism alumni. 

Irving’s support for young journalists goes further still. Through Acadia Broadcasting, students in King’s School of Journalism learn to use the most up-to-date newsroom software, the same software used in newsrooms worldwide. Irving was instrumental to the creation of the Acadia Broadcasting Scholarship, given each year to a student in the one-year Bachelor of Journalism program interested in broadcast journalism. 

Both personally and through his family’s foundation, Irving has made substantial philanthropic contributions to a range of causes and organizations, committed to bettering the communities where his businesses have grown. 

Irving has a deep appreciation for history and an understanding for the potential of historic architecture and archival objects to enrich our appreciation of the past and provide perspective on our present. He is past chair of the New Brunswick Museum and has served on the board of other organizations including the King’s Landing Historical Settlement and the Heritage Canada Foundation. Through Commercial Properties Limited, Irving refurbished Saint John, N.B.’s former British Military Ordnance Building, which dates to 1844. The building has since been designated a National Historic Site. Irving additionally led the restoration of a deteriorating, six-inch howitzer gun that was used in the Battle of the Somme and at Vimy Ridge by Canadian gunners. He is also past Honorary Colonel of the 3rd Field Artillery Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery (The Loyal Company). Known as “The Loyal Company,” the 3rd Field Artillery Regiment formed in Saint John in 1793 in response to the threat of attack from French privateers; it manned local defences during the War of 1812 and was placed on active service just over one hundred years later, during the First World War. 

Irving’s service as Honorary Colonel and the work he has undertaken to preserve the history of the Canadian military more generally earned him a Meritorious Service Medal from the Governor General of Canada in 2016. The citation read: “Since 2009, Honorary Colonel Irving has been demonstrating exceptional support and selfless dedication as the Honorary Colonel of 3rd Field Artillery Regiment (The Loyal Company), Royal Canadian Artillery. He was instrumental in restoring the title ‘The Loyal Company’ to the Regiment; in producing a historical record of the Regiment’s second century of service; and in refurbishing two guns of great historical significance. His efforts to promote the history and heritage of the Canadian Armed Forces have brought great credit to Canada.” 

For his contributions to sustaining local journalism and to the education of the next generation of journalists and for his wide-reaching efforts to preserve buildings and archival objects of historic significance, John Keillor Farrer Irving will be awarded a Doctor of Civil Law (honoris causa). 

Janet Hathaway  

When Janet Hathaway joined the University of King’s College in 1994, she came with an exceptionally wide range of knowledge and education. Over her twenty-seven-year career at the college, generations of King’s students, faculty and staff were the beneficiaries of her astounding breadth of knowledge and concern for detail.

Awarded a Bachelor of Arts in Fine Arts from the University of Washington, she earned a Master of Library Studies and a Bachelor of Laws from Dalhousie. Although she began her library career at the college during the 1990s, Hathaway first came to King’s a few years prior, graduating with a Bachelor of Journalism in 1986. She spent the next few years as a regular columnist for Nova Scotia Business Journal, Atlantic Mining Journal and Northern Miner, reflecting yet another subject area where Hathaway is knowledgeable.  

Hathaway joined the University of King’s College Library as weekend supervisor, during which time she developed a series of finding aids that would be vital to managing the library’s expansion and to the documentation and preservation of its archives. In 2003 Hathaway became the library’s assistant archivist and three years later, she took on the role of assistant librarian (archives and special collections). In this capacity, she became subject specialist for journalism, the Foundation Year Program and for the Contemporary Studies Program. Under Hathaway’s leadership, the archives undertook a series of long-term projects that made a substantial addition to the understanding of the long and complex history of King’s.  

As the university celebrated its 225th anniversary in 2014, the archives’ essential role of arranging and describing the university’s historical materials came to the fore. The archives played a significant part in preparations for the anniversary celebrations, creating a major exhibition on the history of the university and providing historic information and photographs to the Advancement Office. Hathaway’s expertise and dedication to the archives were indispensable. Always central to the academic mission of the college, the library and archives had become an enhanced resource under Hathaway’s direction. 

For the expertise she fostered in the history of the University of King’s College and the years of outstanding and collegial service she gave, Janet Hathaway will be made an Honorary Fellow of the University of King’s College. 


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