Mount Royal University bestows honorary doctorates at Alberta’s only outdoor spring Convocation

June 10, 2021

National Indigenous poet Louise Bernice Halfe (Sky Dancer), energy sector leader Hal Kvisle, former police chief Christine Silverberg, and Blackfoot elder Clarence Wolfleg Senior (Elder Miiksika’am) received Honorary Doctors of Laws from Mount Royal University this week for their outstanding achievements and community service.

To the best of its knowledge Mount Royal is the only post-secondary institution in Alberta that held live, drive-in style spring convocation ceremonies outdoors following similar ceremonies in Fall 2020. Upwards of 640 graduating students (out of a record 1,937 MRU grads this spring), their family and friends attended the eight drive-in ceremonies from June 7 to 10. Students and their guests remained in their vehicles as the ceremony took place on an outdoor stage with screens, and audio tuned in to 88.5 FM. Each ceremony was  live-streamed for students and families unable to attend in person.

“This graduating class finished their studies during an uncertain time, speaking to their persistence and ability to adapt. These are foundational skills that will serve them well in the future,” MRU President and Vice-Chancellor Tim Rahilly, PhD says. “We just couldn’t imagine not recognizing their accomplishments, so this drive-in format gives us a safe way to celebrate.”

Honorary degrees date back to the middle ages and are the highest symbol of recognition Mount Royal can give to an individual. Each recipient addressed graduates and guests during separate ceremonies.

Hal Kvisle, a leader in the oil and gas, utilities and power generation industries, received an Honorary Doctor of Laws on Monday, June 7. From 2012 to 2015, Kvisle was president and chief executive officer of Talisman Energy. He currently serves as board chair of ARC Resources and Finning International and a board member of Cenovus Energy. Passionate about education, Kvisle joined the Mount Royal College board of governors in 2001 as vice-chair and served as board chair from 2002 until 2007. He was awarded an honorary Bachelor of Arts from Mount Royal University in 2009.

Clarence Wolfleg Senior (Elder Miiksika’am), a Spiritual Elder Advisor, received an Honorary Doctor of Laws on Tuesday, June 8.  A residential school survivor, Elder Miiksika’am has given back to the community in many capacities, serving in the Canadian Armed Forces, being an integral part of the justice system, providing leadership on the Siksika Nation Council and currently acting as a Spiritual Elder Advisor to many organizations. His traditional name “Miiksika’am” translates to “Red Crane” in Blackfoot. In 2016 Elder Miiksika’am was awarded an Honorary Bachelor of Arts ― Sociology from Mount Royal University.

Louise Bernice Halfe (Sky Dancer), award-winning poet, received an Honorary Doctor of Laws on Wednesday, June 9. Halfe has shared a powerful testimony to the ongoing Indigenous experience of colonialism, along with the strong resilience of Indigenous storytellers. Burning in this Midnight Dream details Halfe’s response to Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation process and how the experiences of residential school children haunt those who survive and affect multiple generations. Halfe is now serving a two-year appointment as the National Parliamentary Poet Laureate for Canada.

Christine Silverberg, who was appointed chief of police of the Calgary Police Service in 1995, becoming the first female chief in a major Canadian city, received an Honorary Doctor of Laws on June 9. Silverberg now represents diverse clients at SilverbergLegal. She is recognized for her accomplishments in multi-racial, multicultural and Aboriginal communities and as an advocate for women's rights. Among many awards, Silverberg was named Police Chief of the Year and is among the YWCA’s 150 most impactful women in Canada and Canada's 100 most powerful women.

For further information, or photos and video clips from the ceremonies, please contact:

Peter Glenn, Senior Media Relations Officer