The University of King’s College will award Sherri Borden Colley an honorary doctorate at its 231st Encaenia ceremony on May 29, 2020.
Since she was a journalism student at King’s in the 1990s, Borden Colley has been 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, plus she carved out her niche: 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 one to make a significant difference in the lives of many.
For the past four years, Borden Colley has been a reporter/editor with CBC. Her deep understanding of local history and social conditions allows her to dissect complex problems with confidence; her unwavering professionalism, fairness, and compassionate, caring nature mean that people want to work with her. Borden Colley has a strong sense of responsibility. She’s amassed a deep well of contacts and has built a reputation for reporting with integrity, treating all subjects equally and fairly. For that, she’s gained respect and access, evidenced by the fact that people now call her with story ideas.
Since graduating with an honours Bachelor of Journalism degree from King’s in 1997, Borden Colley has given back to the university 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’s board. Consistent with her giving nature, her King’s colleagues praise Borden Colley’s dedication and generosity with students, faculty and staff.
A long-standing member of the Canadian Association of Black Journalists, Borden Colley understands the necessity of diversification in the journalism profession, and today serves as a role model for the next generation of African Nova Scotian journalists. Over coffee or a meal, Borden Colley connects on a very human level with many young journalists in her wake, boosting their confidence and imparting invaluable advice that propels them forward. Plus it’s not been unusual, say colleagues, to see Borden Colley at work with a teenager trailing her, one of the unofficial interns she’s quietly taken under her wing to mentor.
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’s commitment to community extends beyond the newsroom. She is active in the New Horizons Baptist Church where she directs the children’s choir, is a member on the Board of Management and serves as Communications Chair. She’s also a member of the Nova Scotia Mass Choir, a culturally diverse gospel choir spreading messages of acceptance and racial harmony, and she serves as their media representative. Formerly, she was a facilitator with the Community Justice Society Restorative Justice Program.
“I, like so many Nova Scotians, have become better informed and more thoughtful because of Sherri Borden Colley’s work,” said King’s President and Vice-Chancellor, William Lahey. “Her long, exemplary career in journalism and unwavering professionalism serve as inspiration to us all. She’s an alumna we’ve long been proud of and a wonderful representative of King’s School of Journalism—the only School of Journalism in Atlantic Canada. King’s is delighted now to bestow her this honorary doctorate.”
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 (honoris causa).