Honourary Degrees Conferred on Judge Michael McKee and Truth and Reconciliation Commissioner Marie Wilson at Spring Convocation
Published: Tuesday, Apr 24, 2012
Two individuals whose professional careers have been marked by public service and social justice were recognized with honourary degrees at St. Thomas University. Provincial Court Judge Michael McKee and Truth and Reconciliation Commissioner Marie Wilson received honorary doctor of laws at Spring Convocation on Sunday, May 13.
“St. Thomas University is Judge McKee’s alma mater so we are delighted to honour his significant achievements in public service, law and improving mental health services, all of which have a common denominator of social justice,” said St. Thomas University President Dawn Russell.
“Commissioner Marie Wilson has had a distinguished career in journalism and has done outstanding work with Aboriginal, church and political organizations. She now has an important and vital role on Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission.”
“The accomplishments of Judge McKee and Commissioner Wilson represent values that will resonate with our community and I hope that our graduates will strive to emulate these two worthy role models,” added Russell.
Marie Wilson is one of three commissioners for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada which is probing the history and impacts of forced residential schooling on Aboriginal children. She has lived, studied and worked in cross-cultural environments in Europe, Africa and Canada, and has had a distinguished career in journalism, as well as a record of achievement with Aboriginal, religious and political organizations. She has also been a university lecturer, high school teacher and an executive with federal and territorial Crown Corporations.
As a regional and national journalist and manager in northern Quebec and the northern Territories, Wilson worked in print, radio and television. She was the first television program host of northern Canada’s weekly information program, Focus North. As a regional director for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, she launched the first daily television news service for northern Canada and developed programs to showcase northern culture. She received a CBC North Award for Lifetime Achievement and numerous awards for her journalism. Wilson trained staff with the South African Broadcasting Corporation as part of that country’s transition to democracy and coinciding with the establishment of South Africa’s own Truth and Reconciliation Commission. She has also worked with boards and agencies committed to social justice, civic engagement, spiritual and community development and the well-being of children and youth.
Michael McKee’s professional life has been one of public service, as a priest, an elected representative, a jurist and a public policy commissioner. He earned a bachelor of arts from St. Thomas University, a bachelor of sacred theology from Holy Heart Seminary in Halifax and a bachelor of laws from the University of New Brunswick. After serving as prison chaplain at Dorchester Penitentiary, McKee was elected a member of the Legislative Assembly in 1974 where he was the public accounts committee chair and critic for social services, justice, labour and multiculturalism. He became Minister of Labour and Multiculturalism in 1987 and was appointed to the Provincial Court in 1992. An advocate for reform to the mental health system in New Brunswick, he served as Chair of the Mental Health Commission that proposed changes to mental health programs in the report Together into the Future: A Transformed Mental Health System for New Brunswick.
McKee’s commitment to public service and social issues has garnered recognition from the City of Moncton, the New Brunswick Multicultural Council and the Canadian Paraplegic Association. For many years, he has been chair of the New Brunswick Sports Wall of Fame Induction Ceremony and he was named to the St. Thomas University Sports Wall of Fame in 2010 as a member of the 1960-61 men’s hockey team.