Royal Roads honours trio of inspiring “islanders” at spring convocation

A trio of inspiring individuals with island connections – each having made an impact on people locally, provincially and, in some cases, internationally – were honoured at Royal Roads University during convocation on Friday, June 18: a renowned artist living on Salt Spring Island; a former lieutenant-governor born on Galiano Island and a popular philanthropist who is a life-long resident of Vancouver Island.

Under a white marquee on the lawn above Esquimalt Lagoon and in celebration of over 600 graduates from around the world, Royal Roads University conferred  an honorary degree on Robert Bateman during the morning ceremony which began at 9:30 a.m. A Canadian artist and naturalist, Bateman turned 80 years old last month and is recognized as one of the foremost artists depicting the world of nature. Beginning with his first one-man show in 1967, he has had numerous sell-out exhibitions in Canada, the United States, Russia and Great Britain and his work is found in many public and private collections. In 2007, Bateman and Birgit Freybe Bateman gifted Royal Roads University with original art, giclées, photographs, sketch books and artifacts – valued at over $11 million. The university is now fundraising to build the Robert Bateman Centre that will house this legacy.

In the afternoon, at a ceremony which began at 2:00 p.m., the university conferred an honorary degree on the Honourable Iona Campagnolo. A woman of many roles, she began her illustrious career as a radio broadcaster, entering politics in 1966 as a trustee and then chair of the Prince Rupert School Board. In 1974, she was elected to the House of Commons in the riding of Skeena. In addition to being the first woman named as Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia in 2001, Campagnolo was founding chair of the Fraser Basin Council in 1997, first Chancellor of the University of Northern British Columbia, first female president of the Liberal Party of Canada and Canada’s first Minister of State for Fitness and Amateur Sport.

Long-time West Shore resident and successful businessman Bob Saunders, who has been called the “perpetual booster of good things”, was presented with a Chancellor’s Community Recognition Award for his strong sense of community and ongoing support of worthy causes.

“Never content to focus his energies on work alone, Bob Saunders exemplifies the community leadership ideals of Royal Roads University and is the very essence of a good neighbor,” said Peter Robinson, the university’s Chancellor.

Nine students were presented with Chancellor’s Awards for their academic performance at spring convocation; 11 earned Founders Awards for exemplifying qualities of leadership, sustainability and personal development and five received President’s Scholar Awards. An award was also be presented to a student in the BA in International Hotel Management who has made an outstanding contribution to the company hosting her internship.