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Laurier to award two honorary doctorates at fall convocation
Michael Lee-Chin and Sheila Watt-Cloutier to receive recognition
Oct 15/08| For Immediate Release
Jennifer Casey, University Secretary
Kevin Crowley, Associate Director, News and Editorial Services
WATERLOO – Wilfrid Laurier University will bestow honorary doctorates on Michael Lee-Chin, a successful businessman and philanthropist, and environmental activist Sheila Watt-Cloutier. The pair will receive honorary Doctor of Laws degrees during Laurier’s fall convocation ceremonies October 31 at the Waterloo Memorial Recreation Complex.
Lee-Chin will be honoured during the 10 a.m. ceremony for the School of Business & Economics for his significant achievements in business and philanthropy.
Born in Port Antonio, Jamaica, Lee-Chin later moved to Canada and trained as a civil engineer at McMaster University, where he graduated in 1974. In 1987 he acquired the Kitchener-based mutual fund company Advantage Investment Council, later renamed AIC Limited. The company grew into an internationally renowned organization and provided the foundation for Lee-Chin’s business success and fueled his philanthropic contributions to arts, culture and education in Canada, Jamaica and the Caribbean.
One of his most recent contributions include a $30-million gift to the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto that resulted in significant renovations and the construction of a new wing. Lee-Chin has supported other organizations in southern Ontario including the Burlington Art Centre and the Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital. Lee-Chin used AIC Limited to purchase the National Commercial Bank of Jamaica and set up the AIC Caribbean Fund for investment in the Caribbean region during a time of economic crisis.
Watt-Cloutier will receive an honorary doctorate for supporting Inuit culture and pioneering the fight against climate change during the 2 p.m. ceremony, when Laurier will confer graduands from the faculties of arts, music, science, social work, and graduate studies, as well as graduands from the Waterloo Lutheran Seminary and Laurier Brantford.
Watt-Cloutier was born in Kuujjuaq, Quebec and experienced a traditional Inuit childhood. She later attended McGill University where she took courses in psychology and sociology. After years of working to improve the health and education systems in northern Quebec, Watt-Cloutier become a political representative for the Inuit, working as corporate secretary for Makivik Corporation, the Canadian Inuit land-claim organization, and as president of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference Canada, an organization that represents the interests of Inuit internationally.
A current resident of Iqaluit, Watt-Cloutier fought for banning the manufacture and use of organic pollutants that contaminated the food chain in the Arctic. In 2005 she launched the world’s first international legal action on climate change in order to reverse the devastating effects of greenhouse gases on the Arctic landscape. Watt-Cloutier has received numerous awards for her work, including the Order of Canada, a United Nations lifetime achievement award for outstanding contributions to human development, and a nomination for the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.