Honorary degree recipients

Five outstanding individuals will be recognized with honorary degrees at this spring's Encaenia ceremonies on May 29 and 30.

Ceremony A

Susan Guilford Montague, of Rusagonis, NB, will receive an honorary doctorate of letters degree.

Susan Guilford Montague was born and raised in Massachusetts, and now lives in Rusagonis, NB. It has been said that Ms. Montague has set a standard at UNB for which many strive but few will reach. A UNB champion, fundraiser and community leader, she has worked tirelessly to continually enrich the university in its varying facets, as well as the community around it.

Ms. Montague graduated cum laude from Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania with a bachelor of arts in English in 1973, and from the University of Pennsylvania with a master of science in education in 1974.

In 1975, she moved to New Brunswick, and in 1981, began working at UNB as a Publications Associate. During her nearly 40-year tenure at UNB, Ms. Montague has served in a variety of crucial roles including editor, project manager and director of several departments. She has lent her guidance and expertise on a broad array of initiatives and has been a trusted adviser to five presidents. Most recently, Ms. Montague served as Senior Campaign Advisor, Development & Donor Relations.

As Director of Development & Donor Relations, Ms. Montague led UNB’s Venture Campaign, which exceeded its $30-million goal, and the Forging our Futures campaign, which exceeded its $80-million goal. In addition, Ms. Montague played a pivotal role in the success of UNB’s highly successful, $125-million It Begins Here campaign, the largest in the university’s history.

An endless source of institutional knowledge, a remarkable storyteller and hobby historian, Ms. Montague has written a number of books, including A Pictorial History of UNB, which ‘portrays the spirit and character that have informed the past two centuries at UNB.’

Ms. Montague’s dedication to her profession extends far beyond UNB’s campuses; she was a member of the Canadian Council for the Advancement of Education for 12 years and served as its President, Chair and Program Co-Chair, and was a member of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education for 15 years, where she served terms as Secretary of the Board and Chair of the International Committee.

In the midst of her busy career and rich personal life, Ms. Montague has always made time to give back to her community. In recent years, she has volunteered her time by sitting on the Fredericton YMCA Endowment Fund Board, the Fredericton YMCA Board of Directors and Campaign Committee, the SHAD Board of Directors and the Theatre New Brunswick Foundation Board of Directors.

In 2006, in light of Ms. Montague’s countless hours of dedication to UNB and to her efforts in the continual advancement of the university, she was awarded the UNB President’s Medal. She was made an Honorary Member of the UNB Associated Alumni in 2003. Ms. Montague was also presented with the Eleanor Collier Award for her outstanding career performance and professional service in 2002, and a Distinguished Service Award by the Canadian Council for the Advancement of Education in 1997.

Ceremony B

Stephen G. Wetmore, of Campbellton, NB, will receive an honorary doctorate of letters degree.

Stephen G. Wetmore was born and raised in Campbellton, NB, and now lives in Oakville, ON. A Canadian business leader, mentor and visionary, Mr. Wetmore’s ties to New Brunswick and to UNB remain strong.

Mr. Wetmore graduated from Acadia University with a bachelor of business administration in accounting and administration in 1976. Since that time, he has excelled in a number of demanding positions. He helped to create and served as the President and CEO of telecommunications giant Bell Aliant, the largest publicly traded business income trust in Canada. As Vice-Chairman from 2002 to 2006, Mr. Wetmore was involved in virtually all facets of the organization.

In addition to his extensive experience in telecommunications and information technology, Mr. Wetmore successfully restructured and became President of Air Atlantic and has held executive roles in both the healthcare and public accounting sectors.

In 2009, Mr. Wetmore joined Canadian Tire Corporation as President and CEO, where he substantially grew the company by developing a new business model in e-commerce and turning the company’s real estate portfolio into one of its greatest assets. When he stepped down from his role five years later, he had transformed Canadian Tire into the largest sporting goods retailer in the country with the acquisition of FGL Sports (SportChek, Atmosphere, Sports Experts and National Sports).

While serving as the corporation’s deputy chairman of its board of directors in 2016, Mr. Wetmore was asked to serve a second term as President and CEO of Canadian Tire Corporation as a result of his innovative thinking and business acumen. Under his renewed leadership, the company has launched Triangle Rewards, the evolution of its Canadian Tire Money loyalty program, and now the fastest growing loyalty and credit card program in Canada, and acquired Oslo-based Helly Hanen, a global-leader in technical performance products in sportswear and workwear. Together, these two initiatives form a strong foundation and position the Company for continued, long-term growth.

A keen sportsman in his own right, Mr. Wetmore has played a critical role in Canadian Tire’s Jumpstart Charity, which has given two million children, from families in financial need, the chance to participate in sport and physical activity through the YMCA/YWCA, Boys & Girls Club, community centres, and a variety of teams and leagues.

Beyond Canadian Tire’s Jumpstart Charity, the corporation’s philanthropy ranges from sponsorship of Olympic athletes and the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame to support for physical education at the university level, including the Stephen Wetmore Award in Sport and Recreation Management at UNB - the largest award for MBA students at UNB who want to be corporate and community leaders in athletics. The award’s first recipient was selected in 2018. It will continue to positively impact the lives of future leaders in sport for years to come.

In recognition of his impact, The Globe & Mail named Mr. Wetmore one of the 50 Most Powerful people in Canadian Sport in 2013. In 2016, he was awarded a Doctor of Civil Laws degree from his alma mater, Acadia University.

Ceremony C

Kathryn Ann McCain, of Florenceville, NB, will receive an honorary doctorate of letters degree.

Kathryn Ann McCain was born and raised in Florenceville, NB, and now lives in Toronto, ON. Through her passion for giving back, she has remained deeply connected to her home province.

Ms. McCain received her high school education from Havergal College in Toronto, and went on to graduate from the University of New Brunswick in 1972, where she received her bachelor of arts in sociology. Early in her career, Ms. McCain worked in the investment business, managed a YWCA residence, and worked in human resources in the United Kingdom, Toronto and Halifax.

A highly dedicated UNB alumna, Ms. McCain has shown support as a key leadership donor, alumni volunteer and by playing an integral role on the campaign cabinets for the university’s last two major fundraising initiatives, Forging our Future and It Begins Here.

Since 1998, Ms. McCain has been a member of the UNB Board of Governors in a number of capacities, including Chair of Advancement, Finance, Nominating and Review as well as Chair of the Executive and Audit Committees. In 2002, Ms. McCain graciously took on the most challenging and vital volunteer role at UNB, Chair of the Board of Governors, a role in which she served for three years. In recognition of her many contributions to UNB, Ms. McCain was presented with the Alumni Award of Honour in 2010, and named Governor Emerita, UNB in 2017.

Outside of the university, Ms. McCain spent 20 years serving as Chair of the McCain Foundation, the philanthropic arm of McCain Foods, Limited. Through its mandate and under Ms. McCain’s leadership, the Foundation supported many causes, with particular efforts concentrated on the Atlantic provinces.

Ms. McCain is an honorary member of the Nature Conservancy of Canada, Atlantic Region Board, and served on the national board for six years. She sat on the founding board of Pathways to Education, a program which began in Toronto and has since extended its reach to 20 locations across the country, including Saint John, NB. Ms. McCain currently sits on the board of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society and serves as Chair of the Advancement Committee. In 2008, she was made a Fellow of that society and was also awarded its Captain Joseph-Elzear Bernier Medal for exemplary deeds.

As a result of Ms. McCain’s tremendous philanthropic and volunteer efforts, in 2012 she was awarded with the nationally significant Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.

Ceremony D

Opolahsomuwehs Imelda Perley, of St. Mary’s First Nation and Houlton Band of Maliseets, will receive an honorary doctorate of letters degree.

Opolahsomuwehs Imelda Perley was born and raised in Tobique First Nation, and currently resides in St. Mary’s First Nation, NB. As an Indigenous women’s rights activist, language carrier, Sacred Pipe Carrier, Sweatlodge Keeper and Wolastoqi scholar, Elder Perley has affected great change by leading a community movement to re-establish Indigenous cultural traditions.

An alumna of UNB, Elder Perley received a bachelor of arts in anthropology with a specialization in linguistics in 1994, and received her master of education in 2001. As UNB’s Elder-in-Residence from 2012 to 2019, she became the face and spirit of Indigenous engagement at the university.

In this role, Elder Perley blessed gatherings, raised awareness about Indigenous culture and tradition, and ensured the visibility, engagement and acknowledgement of UNB’s Indigenous community through a variety of initiatives, including the establishment of the annual Red Shawl Campaign in honour of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, the Medicine Wheel Garden at UNB in honour of residential school survivors and the establishment of a sacred site for a Sweat Lodge and a Teaching Tipi. In addition, Elder Perley played a lead role in the establishment of UNB’s annual powwow (Siqonawsultipon/Mawiomi) in an effort to share and celebrate Indigenous culture with the UNB and greater Fredericton communities.

Elder Perley taught language and Wabanaki Worldview Courses at UNB and the University of Maine and continues to deliver community-based language training. In 2018, she helped develop and launch a Wolastoqey language app that enables users to learn the proper pronunciation and usage of Wolastoqey words and phrases. She also provided cultural advice for the Wabanaki Collection, an online resource offering educators and the general public information about the Wabanaki Nations.

In her community, Elder Perley holds such traditional roles as Sweatlodge Keeper, Medicine Wheel Teacher, Sacred Pipe Carrier, and Keeper of the Women’s Ceremonies. Along with her husband, David Perley, she is co-founder and coordinator of the Wolastoq Language and Culture Centres at Tobique First Nation and St. Mary’s First Nation, which promote Wolastoqey language, culture, traditions, worldviews and ceremonies.

As a result of her expertise and reputation for wise counsel, Elder Perley has been a valued advisor to community organizations and provincial and federal agencies. She is a board member of the New Brunswick Museum, and is currently working with Kings Landing to incorporate Wolastoqey culture, language and tradition into a number of the living museum’s permanent exhibits.

Elder Perley is in the process of developing a mini-series of Indigenous wellness initiatives in collaboration with the Mi’kmaq Wolastoqey Center, Health Canada and Wolastoqiyik Indigenous artist Natalie Sappier, which will be featured at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery in June 2019.

Throughout her career, Elder Perley has been publicly recognized for her determination in keeping First Nations cultural traditions alive. In 2013, she was honoured by the Maine State Legislature for her dedication to the revitalization of Indigenous language. She was awarded two Dr. Marilyn Trenholme Counsell Literacy Awards, in 2001 and 2013, respectively. In 2017, she was awarded the Governor General’s Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers and the Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal for community service in 2012. Elder Perley has served as a Canada 150 Ambassador and was named one of UNB’s Newsmakers of the Year by The Brunswickan in 2018.

David Perley, of Tobique First Nation, NB, will receive an honorary doctorate of letters degree.

David Perley was born and raised in Tobique First Nation, NB and currently resides in St. Mary’s First Nation, NB. An Indigenous ambassador, Wolastoqi scholar, former Chief of Tobique First Nation, civil servant and educator, he is a dedicated advocate on behalf of First Nations governance and education.

In 1976, Mr. Perley graduated with a bachelor of arts in sociology from St. Thomas University. That same year, he led the establishment of the Native Indian University Student Association and acted as its first President. He continued his education and earned a master of arts in sociology from UNB in 1980. He is currently completing his PhD in education at UNB.

From 2014 to 2019, Mr. Perley served as Director of the Mi’kmaq Wolastoqey Centre at UNB. Along with his wife, UNB’s Elder-in-Residence Imelda Perley, he strengthened and expanded the centre, which promotes the preservation of New Brunswick’s Indigenous languages and the development of Indigenous Education.

At UNB, Mr. Perley was a key figure in the development of the bachelor of education in Wabanaki Education, the Leadership and Governance Diploma Program and the Minor in Indigenous Studies. He was co-chair of UNB’s Reconciliation Initiatives and Truth and Reconciliation Strategic Action Plan, and was responsible for developing decolonizing initiatives to bring Indigenous knowledge, language, culture and ceremony to campus life. He helped bring UNB’s annual powwows (Siqonawsultipon/Mawiomi), the Elder-in-Residence program and the recently created position of Piluwitahasuwin (Assistant Vice-President Indigenous Engagement) to life.

Most recently, Mr. Perley helped open Mawoluhkhotipon: Ally & Safe Space Program for Wabanaki and Indigenous Peoples on UNB’s Saint John campus. The project supports Indigenous peoples who work, study and visit UNB’s Saint John campus.

Mr. Perley has taught numerous courses on Indigenous culture, history and language at UNB, St. Thomas University and the University of Maine, and has published a number of academic journal articles and reports on Indigenous education, demographics, economics and social conditions.

From 1983 to 1989, Mr. Perley served as chief of Tobique First Nation. In addition, he served as councillor for Tobique First Nation from 2004 to 2008. He was a senior official in the New Brunswick Department of Education for 14 years, where he led the development and implementation of initiatives in support of Wolastoqi and Mi’kmaq students attending public schools. He also provided guidance and expertise for federal and provincial ministries, including Justice, Solicitor General, Child and Family and Indian and Northern Affairs. Mr. Perley further consulted with the Assembly of First Nations and the Union of New Brunswick Indians on matters related to Aboriginal Rights, Treaty Rights, Land Claims and Self-Determination.

Along with his wife, Mr. Perley established the Wolastoqey Language and Culture Centres, which offer programs to Wolastoqey First Nations leaders that teach best practices on how to guide their communities in a “culture first” approach.