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Indigenous advocates recognized at Royal Roads University convocation ceremony

Honours for the late Lillian Howard, and for Clarence Yux’way’lupton “Butch” Dick

Royal Roads University honoured 886 graduates Friday in a virtual convocation ceremony that brought people together from around the world.

Graduates from about two dozen countries took part, with 141 international students and 45 self-declared Indigenous students among those being recognized.

Honorary doctor of laws degrees were given to Clarence Yux’way’lupton “Butch” Dick and the late Lillian Howard, an alumnus of the Royal Roads master of arts in environmental education program.

“Butch Dick holds a special place in the hearts of so many throughout this region and is so deserving of this honorary degree,” said Royal Roads chancellor Nelson Chan. “He shares his creative spirit so freely. Here at Royal Roads, we are honoured to have his art, knowledge and wisdom guide us on a deliberate path towards reconciliation.”

Howard, an advocate for Indigenous people, social issues and the environment, died Oct. 30. Friday’s ceremony included a tribute to her.

“It is with deep sorrow that we acknowledge the loss of Lillian Howard and our sincerest condolences go to Lillian’s family, friends and Nuu-chah-nulth and Mowachaht/Muchalaht communities,” said Royal Roads president and vice-chancellor Philip Steenkamp. “Lillian’s fire burned so brightly and she embodied both the courage and spirit of a lifelong learner and leader, acting throughout her life to advance the interests of Indigenous rights, the land and justice.”

Steenkamp said the experience of learning at Royal Roads is a “personal journey” for each student.

“Students have shown us in so many ways how skilled they are at breaking through barriers and making it very clear they are taking their learning and their courage to lead real change.”

Winners of the fall 2021 Grad Medal Awards include:

• Governor General’s Gold Medal: Maia Foster-Sanchez — master of arts in disaster and emergency management

• Governor General’s Silver Medal Brynna Kagawa-Visentin — bachelor of science in environmental practice. Kagawa-Visentin was also among the winners of the Chancellor’s Award and President’s Scholar Award.

• Lieutenant Governor’s Medal for Inclusion, Democracy and Reconciliation: Katelynne Herchak — bachelor of arts in justice studies.

jbell@timescolonist.com