Please enable javascript to view this page in its intended format.

Queen's University

2011 Honorary Degree Recipients



Izzeldin Abuelaish, LL.D 

Bruce Alexander, LL.D

Robert Beamish, LL.D John Crosbie, LL.D
Janina Fialkowska, LL.D Robert Fowler, LL.D
Alia Hogben, LL.D Vicki Keith, LL.D
Piers McDonald, LL.D Beverley McLachlin, LL.D



Izzeldin Abuelaish, LL.D 

Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, MD, MPH, often known and referred to as “the Gaza Doctor”, is a Palestinian medical doctor and infertility specialist who has spent his life working to create peace as a researcher, educator, and leader in the conflict between Israel and Palestine. Dr. Abuelaish received his early education in the refugee camp school system in Jabalia, Gaza. He studied medicine in Cairo, Egypt and later obtained a diploma in Obstetrics and Gynecology with the Ministry of Health in Saudi Arabia in collaboration with the Institute of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of London. He completed a residency in obstetrics and gynecology at Saroka Hospital in Israel, followed by further studying fetal medicine and genetics at V. Buzzi hospital in Italy and Erasme hospital in Belgium. He went on to earn his Master in Public Health degree in Health Policy and Management at Harvard University, and later worked as a senior researcher at the Gertner Institute in Sheba hospital in Israel. Currently, Dr. Abuelaish is an Associate Professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto, Canada.


Dr. Abuelaish’s life has not been without considerable hardship. Between 2008-9, he lost his wife to acute leukemia, followed by losing his three daughters and niece when his home was shelled during the Israeli incursion into Gaza. He sought to act positively following these tragedies, in hopes that the lives lost during this time would be the last. He directed his energy toward spreading the doctrine that from tragedy can come good; from conflict and hardship can come peace and well-being.


His excellence and accomplishments have been recognized through a number of awards, including the 2009 Stavros Niarchos Prize for Survivorship, the 2009 Search for Common Ground Award, the 2009 Middle East Institute Award, the 2010 Uncommon Courage Award from the Centre for Ethnic, Racial and Religious Understanding and the 2010 Mahatma Ghandi Peace Award of Canada. He has also been named one of the 500 Most Influential Muslims in 2009 -10 by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre and was nominated for the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize. He is the author of the best-seller “I Shall Not Hate: A Gaza Doctor’s Journey” which is being translated into 15 languages. He has also established The Daughters For Life Foundation in memory of his three daughters and niece whose lives were lost in 2009. The foundation aims to promote health education and leadership for women throughout the Middle East.

Return to top






Bruce Alexander, LL.D

Bruce was born in Montreal in 1938 and attended Hillcrest Public School in Toronto and Oakville-Trafalgar High School.  He graduated from Queen’s with a Bachelor of Commerce in 1960, after which he attended the London School of Economics and Dalhousie Law School as a Dunn Scholar.  After marrying Andrea Lough, he transferred to University of Toronto Law School where he obtained his LL.B. in 1965. Bruce and Andrea’s son Christopher was born in 1968.  Bruce attended the Harvard Business School Advanced Management Program from 1984 to 1985.


Bruce has extensive experience in both government and the private sector.  He began his career in 1967 as an associate lawyer at Osler, Hoskin and Harcourt and moved to the Ontario provincial government where had a 13 year career, which included being Chair of the Ontario Highway Transport Board and serving in Assistant Deputy Minister capacities in both the Ministry of Transportation and Communications and the Ministry of Community and Social Services.  He moved back to the private sector in 1987, when he was appointed Managing Director of Fraser Beatty (now Fraser Milner Casgrain).  During the negotiation of the Charlottetown Accord, he was Special Adviser to the Right Honourable Joe Clark, the Minister for Constitutional Affairs (Canada).  He returned to the private sector in 1993 as a Principal in GlobeInvest Capital Management, and was subsequently Vice-President of McCutcheon Steinbach Investment Management.  Since 1999 he has been Vice-Chair of the Ontario Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal.

Bruce’s contributions to Queen’s since he was a student have been substantial.  He was President of the Alma Mater Society and recipient of the A.E. MacRae Award in 1960.  He has been a member of the University Council since 1968 and was a member of the Board of Trustees from 1970 to 1982. He chaired the John Orr dinner in 1970, 1984 and 1985 and was co-founder of the Kingston and Queen’s Rowing Clubs and the Queen’s Public Sector Management Program.  He received the Queen’s Distinguished Service Award in 1988, the National Alumni Award in 1991, the Toronto Branch Award in 1995, and the John Orr Award in 2001.

Bruce has had extensive involvement in the volunteer sector.  He was founding Director of the John Howard Society of Toronto and the Oriole Park Community Association, co-founder of the John Brooks Community Foundation Scholarship Fund, recipient of the John Brooks Community Foundation Award, Deputy Director of the United Way Government Campaign; Member, International Observer Group - Sri Lanka Elections, 1993; and Director, Canadian Scottish Heritage Foundation.  In 2009, he created the Shadow Cabinet as a way of formalizing a lifelong interest in mentoring young Canadians.

Bruce has a passion for sport and recreation, has been active in cycling, cross country skiing, and white water canoeing and is a member of the Boulder Buster Canoe Club.  He was a member of the Legacy Committee of the Toronto Olympic Bid, created the Les Amis fund for amateur athletes, and served on the Boards of Cross Country Canada and True Sport Canada.

Return to top






Robert Beamish, LL.D 

Robert Beamish was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba.  During his younger years, his family moved often due to his father’s job, which meant Bob attended various public schools in Toronto and Montreal.  Ultimately, the family landed in the west end of Toronto, where Bob attended Etobicoke Collegiate Institute.  It was there that he met his wife-to-be, Marilyn Daly, and the two were married just weeks after their university graduation, his from Queen’s and hers from University of Toronto.


Bob graduated with a BSc in Mechanical Engineering in 1960.  It was during this time at Queen’s that he developed his life-long love of flying and acquired his Pilot’s license.


His first employment was as a Process Engineer in the paper industry in Toronto.  Following that, he had the opportunity to become involved in a start-up company in New Jersey, which manufactured portable emergency shelters - a good learning experience.


Just around the time of the birth of their first child, Bob took a job as Technical Service Representative at Monsanto Canada in their Plastics Division.  He stayed with Monsanto for 14 years and held various positions in manufacturing, marketing, and management, with his final assignment being President of Monsanto Canada.


In 1978, Monsanto chose to withdraw from one segment of their operations in Canada, the polyurethane business.  Bob, along with his colleague at Monsanto who ran the division, Bob Fitzhenry, purchased the business. “Woodbridge Foam Corporation”, now known as “The Woodbridge Group”, was hence established, composed of just the one facility located in Woodbridge, Ontario.


Concentrating on innovations in the processes and products, the business has grown over the past 30 years from one local Canadian plant to over 60 facilities in 21 countries.  It now produces and assembles many products, primarily for the automotive industry, and remains a private Canadian corporation.


Over the years, Bob has been involved in a number of ventures, many of which strive to find new materials to improve a product, or replace petroleum-based material with sustainable substitutes.  These developments range from the design and manufacture of aircraft floats and bush planes, to the commercialization of bio-based petrochemical replacements, composite lumber made from fly ash, and biodiesel.


Over 10 years ago, Bob, Marilyn and his three children formed a charitable foundation, The WB Family Foundation, the primary purpose of which is to assist organizations with their creative initiatives in medical research, health care, and education.  Participation in the realization of the Queen’s Integrated Learning Centre, Beamish-Munro Hall, is one example of the foundation’s interests.  The Foundation has also placed a particular emphasis on mental health issues through its association with The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, as well as funding certain hospitals specifically in the area of diagnostic imaging. 


Bob and Marilyn currently live in Oakville.  They have three children, and nine grandchildren.

Return to top






John Crosbie, LL.D

John Crosbie was born on January 30, 1931 in St. John’s, Newfoundland and was educated at St. Andrew’s College in Ontario. He attended Queen’s University and graduated with an Arts degree and the medal in Politics in 1953. He recalls experiencing the mentoring of, and consultations with, J.A. Corry and J. Meisel of the Politics department, F. Knox of the Economics department, W. Lederman, later the first Dean of the Law School, and J. Royce, the Registrar.


After graduation, John Crosbie attended the Dalhousie Law School and graduated in 1956 as a University Medallist and received the Viscount Bennett Fellowship for post-graduate study, which led to further legal studies at the London School of Economics in 1956-57. In October of 1957, he was called to the bar of Newfoundland and has served as a member of the Law Society of Newfoundland for 54 years.


John Crosbie was first elected as a Member of the House of Assembly of Newfoundland in 1966 in which he served until winning a by-election in St. John’s West Federal District in 1976. He served as a Member of Parliament in Opposition and, at various times, as a Minister of Finance, Justice, Transport, International Trade, and Fisheries and Oceans. He retired from politics in 1993 and was the Chancellor of Memorial University from 1994 to 2008, when he was appointed Lieutenant Governor of Newfoundland and Labrador.


Mr. Crosbie married his wife, Jane, at the beginning of his final year at Queen’s in 1952. They will celebrate 59 years of marriage in the fall of 2011. His two sons, Ches and Michael, and daughter, Beth, all attended Queen’s, with Ches winning the medal in Politics twenty-three years after his father achieved the same honour. The family tradition has continued, with a granddaughter graduating from Queen’s in 2009.

Return to top






Janina Fialkowska, LL.D

Beloved the world over for her exquisite pianism, Janina Fialkowska has enchanted audiences for over thirty years with her glorious lyrical sound, her sterling musicianship, and her profound sense of musical integrity.  Born to a Canadian mother and a Polish father in Montreal, Janina Fialkowska started to study the piano with her mother at the age of five.  Eventually she entered the École de Musique Vincent d'Indy, studying under the tutelage of Mlle. Yvonne Hubert.  The University of Montreal awarded her both advanced degrees of “Baccalauréat” and “Maîtrise” by the time she was only 17.


In 1969, Ms. Fialkowska’s career was greatly advanced by two events: winning the first prize in the Radio Canada National Talent Festival and travelling to Paris to study with Yvonne Lefébure.  One year later, she entered the Juilliard School of Music in New York, where she first studied with Sascha Gorodnitzki and later became his assistant for five years.


In 1974, her career was launched by Arthur Rubinstein after her prize-winning performance at his inaugural Master Piano Competition in Israel.  Ms. Fialkowska has performed with the foremost North American orchestras as well as with all of the principal Canadian orchestras.  In touring Europe and Asia, Ms. Fialkowska has appeared as a guest artist with such prestigious orchestras as the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam, the Halle Orchestra, the London Philharmonic, London's Philharmonia Orchestra, the BBC Symphony, the Royal Philharmonic, the Scottish National Orchestra, the Warsaw Philharmonic, and the French and Belgium National Radio Orchestras.


She has also performed with the foremost North American orchestras, among them the Chicago Symphony, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Houston Symphony and the Pittsburgh Symphony as well as with all of the principal Canadian orchestras, including the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the National Arts Centre Orchestra of Ottawa, the Calgary Philharmonic, and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra under the baton of such renowned conductors as Charles Dutoit, Bernard Haitink, Lorin Maazel, Zubin Mehta, Sir Roger Norrington, Sir Georg Solti,  and Leonard Slatkin.


Janina Fialkowska was the Founding Director of the hugely successful “Piano Six” project and its successor “Piano Plus”.  This latest project brings together some of Canada’s greatest Classical pianists, instrumentalists and vocalists with Canadians who, for either geographical or financial reasons, would otherwise be unable to hear this calibre of live classical performance.  In 2000, "Piano Six" won one of Canada's top arts awards, the Chalmers Award.


In October 2002 Ms Fialkowska was appointed Officer of the Order of Canada.  She continues to tour the world and delight audiences with her outstanding skill as well as producing critically acclaimed bestselling CDs.

Return to top






Robert Fowler, LL.D 

In the course of 38 years of public service, Robert (Bob) Fowler spent a dozen years in the Department of External Affairs, serving in Paris, at the United Nations, and at Headquarters in Ottawa, before being transferred to the Privy Council Office where he was the Foreign Policy Advisor to Prime Ministers Trudeau, Turner, and Mulroney from 1980 to 1986.


Mr. Fowler was Assistant Deputy Minister (Policy) at the Department of National Defence from 1986 to 1989, during which time he produced three White Papers on Canadian Defence Policy, and served as Deputy Minister of National Defence from 1989 to 1995. In this capacity he was responsible for 35,000 civilian employees, the administrative, materiel, and support needs of 90,000 members of the Canadian Forces, a budget of $13 billion (CDN), and for the elaboration of defence policy.


In January of 1995, Mr. Fowler became Canada’s longest serving Ambassador to the United Nations (1995 - 2000), where he represented Canada on the Security Council in 1999 and 2000. As Chair of the Angolan Sanctions Committee, he issued two ground-breaking reports which, by putting an end to the impunity of sanctions busters and severely limiting the rebels' access to diamond markets and the arms bazaar, led to the end of the civil war that had ravaged Angola for 25 years.


From 2000 to 2006, Mr. Fowler was Canadian Ambassador to Italy, Albania, San Marino, the three Rome-based UN Food Agencies, and High Commissioner to Malta. Concurrently, he was appointed Sherpa for the Kananaskis G8 Summit in 2002, chairing the creation of the Africa Action Plan, which laid a new foundation for the G8's relationship with Africa.  In 2005, he chaired Prime Minister Paul Martin’s Special Advisory Team on Sudan.


From 2001 to 2006, he was the Personal Representative for Africa of Prime Ministers Chrétien, Martin and, briefly, Harper.          


Bob Fowler retired from the federal public service in the fall of 2006 and became a Senior Fellow at the University of Ottawa’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs.


In July 2008, the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon, appointed Mr. Fowler to be his Special Envoy to Niger, with the rank of Under-Secretary-General. While acquitting his UN mission, Mr. Fowler and his colleague, Louis Guay, were captured by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) on 14 December 2008, and held hostage in the Sahara Desert for 130 days.


Bob and Mary Fowler live in Ottawa and have four daughters and four grandchildren.

Return to top






Alia Hogben, D.D 

Alia Hogben has been a fierce, eloquent and courageous champion of the rights of women and, in particular, those of Muslim women. Born in Burma, raised primarily in India, as well as in many other countries, including Canada. Ms. Hogben is truly a citizen of the world. She was educated at Carleton University (BA) and the University of Toronto (MSW). As a social worker she advocated on behalf of those who did not always have the voice to speak for themselves: women, children, immigrants, the poor, the mentally ill, and those with developmental handicaps to name a few.


Ms. Hogben has been part of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women since its inception; as a member of the Board, as President, and now as Executive Director. With the Council, she has worked tirelessly to assist Canadian Muslim women and others to learn about Islam and its message of equality, plurality and inclusiveness and to seek changes in policies affecting all Muslims, especially Muslim women. Under her direction, the Council has commissioned and disseminated many scholarly reports on the lives and rights of Muslim women in Canada and has, thereby, contributed to the education of Canadians about women and Islam. As part of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women, she has employed her reasoned and informed voice in service of the rights of Muslim women in Canada.


She is highly valued by the media as a commentator on issues concerning Islam in Canada and Women in Islam. She writes a monthly column for the Kingston Whig-Standard on Islam and Muslims. She has spoken at international conferences all over the world. Ms. Hogben was a key spokesperson against the use of religious law in family law arbitrations in Ontario. Her position is based both on her view of the breadth and pluralism within Islam and on her commitment to the rights of all women in Canada. She has been honoured by the Ontario Elementary Teachers' Federation as one of the "Great Canadian Women: Making Change Happen."


Ms. Hogben seeks to counter ignorance and fear of Islam with facts, reality and research. She is an articulate proponent of a vision of Islam that is broad, inclusive and egalitarian; a vision that, in her view, fits well in a pluralistic country such as Canada. But she also knows that no religious tradition is defined by a single voice or by a single point of view.


Ms. Hogben lives a life of full engagement. Her ready smile and her easy laughter demonstrate that seriousness of purpose can go hand in hand with a lively sense of humour. For her passion and persistence, for not letting us forget that if we are not vigilant many hard-earned rights could be lost or compromised, Queen's University, upon the recommendation of the Queen's School of Religion, is proud to confer upon her the honorary degree Doctor of Divinity.





Return to top






Vicki Keith, LL.D

Vicki Keith is the most successful marathon swimmer in the history of the sport, holding an unprecedented sixteen world records. Constantly surpassing the records of other swimmers as well as previous records of her own, Vicki has become, to many, the face of marathon swimming in both Canada and around the world. Her most recognized accomplishments include becoming the first person to swim across all five Great Lakes in 1988 and being the only person to complete the 104 km double crossing of Lake Ontario.


Vicki's dream has always been to make a positive difference in the lives of others, so in 2005, when the need for new opportunities for children with disabilities in Kingston, Ontario became apparent, Vicki came out of swimming retirement, and spent 63 hours and 40 minutes in Lake Ontario, completing 80.2 kilometres butterfly, setting 2 world records and raising over $260,000 for the Kingston Family YMCA. This brought her lifetime fundraising total to over one million dollars.


After her marathon swimming career, Vicki took on a new challenge - coaching competitive swimming to a team of athletes with physical disabilities. Vicki has coached 14 athletes with a disability to the national level and two athletes to the international level in competitive swimming, 6 athletes to world records in marathon swimming, and an athlete with a disability to the podium in triathlon on the world stage.


In 2001 Vicki founded the Y Knot Abilities Programs for young people with physical disabilities and their able-bodied siblings. The Y Knot Abilities Programs include sports like competitive swimming, wheelchair basketball and track. Today, Vicki, is working at developing these programs further by expanding to YMCA's across Ontario and Canada.


Vicki has been appointed as a member of the Order of Canada, in recognition of her outstanding achievements and service. In 1996 she was inducted into the Terry Fox Hall of Fame, and in 1998 she had her most famous arrival and departure point renamed after her. The headlands of the Leslie Street Spit in Toronto are now called Vicki Keith Point. .

Return to top






Piers McDonald, LL.D 


Piers McDonald was born in Kingston, Ontario, but has dedicated his life to improving the lives of others in Canada’s Yukon Territory. He moved to the Yukon to take part in its mining industry, beginning in 1975 and was, only a few years later, a Member of its Legislative Assembly.


For the next two decades, Piers McDonald was at the head of numerous government ministries, such as the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Community and Transport, and the Ministry of Finance. He spearheaded construction of the Yukon College campus and the Yukon Arts Centre, as well as community schools in Dawson City, Old Crow, and Watson Lake. He opened the Skagway Road year-round, providing access to the ocean ports for Yukon’s mines. Mr. McDonald was one of the architects of Yukon’s Umbrella Final Agreement, which saw most of Yukon’s fourteen First Nations peoples become self-governing. He also oversaw the devolution federal powers in health, highways, and airports to the Yukon government. Piers McDonald led the Yukon New Democratic Party from 1995 to 2000, and was the Territory’s Premier from 1996 to 2000.


After Mr. McDonald left politics in 2000, he created Northern Vision Development, a corporation with the goal of investing in infrastructure in the Whitehorse waterfront. The corporation has grown to become one of the Yukon’s leading real estate companies. In 2007, Piers McDonald assumed the role of President of the 2007 Canada Winter Games, which brought with it 30 to 40 hours per week of volunteer work in addition to his full-time job. The Games were a success, and Mr. McDonald was named the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce’s Businessperson of the Year and the Yukon Commission’s Volunteer of the Year.


In 2009, Piers McDonald was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada.

Return to top






Beverley McLachlin, LL.D 


The Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, P.C. serves as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada.


Chief Justice McLachlin spent her formative years in Pincher Creek, Alberta and was educated at the University of Alberta, where she received a B.A. (Honours) in Philosophy in 1965. She pursued her studies at the University of Alberta and, in 1968, received both an M.A. in Philosophy and an LL.B.


She articled with Wood, Moir, Hyde and Ross in Edmonton and was called to the Alberta Bar in 1969 and to the British Columbia Bar in 1971. The Chief Justice practised law in Edmonton for a short time, spent one year in Fort St. John and moved to Vancouver to practise with Bull, Housser and Tupper. Commencing in 1974, she taught for seven years in the Faculty of Law at the University of British Columbia as a tenured Associate Professor.


Her judicial career began in April 1981 when she was appointed to the Vancouver County Court. In September 1981, she was appointed to the Supreme Court of British Columbia. She was elevated to the British Columbia Court of Appeal in December of 1985 and was appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of British Columbia in September 1988. Seven months later, in April 1989, she was sworn in as a Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada. On January 7, 2000, she was appointed Chief Justice of Canada. She is the first woman in Canada to hold this position.


In addition to her judicial duties at the Supreme Court, the Chief Justice chairs the Canadian Judicial Council, the Advisory Council of the Order of Canada and the Board of Governors of the National Judicial Institute. She also serves on the selection committee of the Vimy Award.


The Chief Justice has written many articles and publications and is the author of two books. She is the recipient of 29 honorary degrees and was named Commander of the French Legion of Honour in 2007. She was presented with the Queen’s Jubilee medal and the International Jurists award in 2008 and is an honorary member of the American College of Trial Lawyers. In 2010, she was named Canadian of the Year by the Canadian Club of Toronto and was inducted into the International Hall of Fame by the International Women’s Forum.

Return to top

Kingston, Ontario, Canada. K7L 3N6. 613.533.2000