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Honorary Diploma Recipients: 2018

NSCC is pleased to award Honorary Diplomas to these outstanding individuals who demonstrate true leadership in their field and community.


Dr. J. Colin Dodds
Akerley Campus
Dr. J. Colin Dodds

Although best known recently as the 33rd President Emeritus of Saint Mary's University, Dr. J. Colin Dodds is also Professor of Finance in the University's Sobey School of Business, and has spent more than four decades making considerable contributions to the post-secondary education sector.

Born and educated in the United Kingdom, Dr. Dodds earned a BA, B.Sc., MA and PhD. He immigrated to Canada in 1982. Joining Saint Mary's University as a professor of finance, Dr. Dodds went on to serve as a department chair, the Dean of the Sobey School of Business and the Vice-President of Academic & Research, prior to becoming President & Vice-Chancellor for the institution. Regardless of his title, Dr. Dodds continued to find his way back to the classroom. While president, Dr. Dodds taught international finance to graduate students. He has an extensive record of publications, including journal articles, books and conference presentations.

Dr. Dodds is very active in a range of local, national and international organizations. As a former Chair of the Council of Nova Scotia University Presidents (CONSUP), Dr. Dodds was a staunch advocate for increasing collaboration and cooperation among Nova Scotia's universities and NSCC. He argued that the College, alongside our province's universities, plays a strategic role in driving regional, national and international economic growth.

It is through his championing and encouragement that the collaborative era experienced in Nova Scotia's post-secondary education sphere began to flourish. For NSCC, one result was a growing list of articulation agreement partners – with Saint Mary’s University, under Dr. Dodds' leadership, being the first to wholly-embrace the integrated-learning concept of combining college and university.

In 2010, Dr. Dodds was inducted into Atlantic Business Magazine's Hall of Fame. During the induction, it was noted that Dr. Dodds' efforts to attract and retain newcomers to Nova Scotia made strides to address the demographic challenges faced by the province – a model to follow.

In 2014, he was also awarded the Lieutenant Governor's Medal for Excellence in Public Administration in Nova Scotia and the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee and Diamond Jubilee medals. At this time, Dr. Dodds was further recognized for his efforts to improve the immigration stream for international students in the province and his significant contributions to the post-secondary education system in Nova Scotia as a whole.

Throughout his considerable career, Dr. J. Colin Dodds has served as a positive example, through his work, to continuously open pathways to education and greatness for learners the world over.

He and his wife Carol have two children, James (Toronto) and Elizabeth (Halifax), and four grandchildren.

Rick Hansen
Annapolis Valley Campus
Rick Hansen

Rick Hansen is a Canadian icon who has dedicated his life to creating a world that is accessible and inclusive for all. Best known as the "Man In Motion" for undertaking an epic, two-year, 40,000 km journey around the world in his wheelchair, Rick is also a three-time world champion, nine-time Pan Am gold medallist and three-time Paralympic gold medallist. Now the Founder & CEO of the Rick Hansen Foundation, an organization committed to creating a world without barriers for people with disabilities, Rick Hansen and his team work hard to change attitudes, create accessible spaces and liberate the amazing potential of people with disabilities.

When he was 15, Rick's life changed forever. Returning home from a week-long fishing trip, Rick was thrown from the back of a pick-up truck and became paralyzed from the waist down. His new reality came with a lot of challenges, but with determination, a sense of humour and a lot of heart, he found a way to keep doing the things he loved, and began to make new dreams.

In 1976, he enrolled at the University of British Columbia, becoming the first person with a disability to graduate with a degree in Physical Education. Rick is the recipient of many awards and honours. The full extent of his achievements and accolades are too extensive to list.

The Rick Hansen Foundation was established in 1988, following the completion of the Man in Motion World Tour. To date, the Foundation has generated over $342 million dollars, and has delivered programs that have raised awareness, changed attitudes and improved the quality of life for people with disabilities. The Foundation works diligently to achieve real change through collaboration, partnerships and teamwork. This includes the Rick Hansen Institute, a global collaboration network for improving the care and finding cures for spinal cord injuries.

In 2017, the Foundation officially launched an innovative accessibility certification program to help improve access to built environments. Piloted in B.C., the Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility CertificationTM (RHFAC) program is the first of its kind. The program seeks to make public spaces universally accessible – particularly for persons with physical, sensory, learning and developmental disabilities – and ensures that everyone is able to participate and live to their full potential.

The following year, NSCC announced that the College would deliver the professional training component of the RHFAC program. During the announcement, Kingstec Campus student and wheelchair athlete Ben Brown, said, "Without Rick, we might not have had something as simple as wheelchair ramps in this province, let alone the country."

Rick Hansen's impact on social, attitudinal and physical barriers faced by Canadians and persons with disabilities the world over is staggering. His impact as a role model for Canadians with disabilities is immeasurable. Through educational programs, accessibility initiatives and support for research, Rick Hansen and his Foundation have inspired the world to re-envision what an inclusive Canada can, and should, be.

Natalie MacMaster
Strait Area Campus
Natalie MacMaster

An acclaimed fiddler, author, radio-show host and business mogul, Natalie MacMaster has helped transform Nova Scotia – Cape Breton in particular – into an internationally-recognized region for folk, traditional, Celtic and Gaelic music and culture.

Officially launching her career with her self-produced album Four on the Floor in 1989, Natalie has gone on to release 13 additional solo albums and collaborations – several selling over 300,000 copies. She has also performed alongside artists such as Yo-Yo Ma, Faith Hill, Johnny Reid, Carlos Santana, Sharon, Lois & Bram and Buddy MacMaster.

With a heart as big as the sound produced by her fiddle, Natalie has long combined her talent with her generous spirit to make a difference in the lives of others. Through her inspirational benefit concerts, she has supported numerous charitable causes and communities across the nation.

In 2006, she was officially recognized for her outstanding career, dedication to the community and service to Canada with the nation's highest civilian honour: The Order of Canada. It is widely believed that her work as a musician and cultural ambassador has re-invigorated markets for Nova Scotian artists in countries such as Germany, the US, the UK, China, India, Switzerland and Australia.

She has also been recognized with awards and nominations from the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (Junos), the East Coast Music Association, the Canadian Folk Music Association, the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television (Geminis) and the Canadian Country Music Association; and has been conferred honorary doctorates from the Atlantic School of Theology (Halifax), Trent University (Peterborough), Niagara University (New York) and St. Thomas University (Fredericton).

Since the death of the legendary Buddy MacMaster – her uncle – in 2014, Natalie has also taken up the mantle as standard-bearer for Cape Breton-style fiddling – a method of Scottish-style violin-playing that has evolved over the last century on Cape Breton Island. It is characterized by a strong, downbeat pulse that is intensified with the banging of the fiddler's heel on the floor.

As a positive representative of Nova Scotian heritage, culture and music, Natalie MacMaster has enhanced the province socially, culturally and economically, and has found success internationally – all while continuing to do what she loves.

Elder Albert Marshall
Strait Area Campus
Elder Albert Marshall

Albert Marshall is many things to many people: an Elder in the Mi'kmaq Nation, a friend, a father, a grandfather, a husband and a mentor. He is also a passionate teacher and advocate.

As a young boy, Albert was taken from his family and placed in the Shubenacadie Indian Residential School. He was profoundly affected by the experience and it led him on a lifelong quest to connect with and understand both the culture he was removed from, and the culture he was forced into.

For decades, he has worked to bring together Western and Indigenous cultures and find ways to live in mutual respect of each other. Through a guiding principle that he conceived, Albert reasons that by respecting different world views and recognizing the best from each, we achieve a powerful model for all human discourse.

Dubbed Two-Eyed-Seeing or Etuaptmumk, the principle asks that we learn to see from one eye with the strength of the Indigenous peoples, and see from the other eye with the strength of Western knowledge – using both eyes for the benefit of all.

During cross-country hearings into the legacy of the Indian Residential School system, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission called on Albert and his wife, Murdena, a fellow educator and Elder, to explain Two-Eyed Seeing to all in attendance. The presentation greatly impacted the Commission’s resulting 2016 report, which argued that post-secondary institutions are uniquely equipped to help repair cultural attitudes.

Through this report, educational institutions were called upon to expand opportunities and approaches to contribute to the elimination of education and employment gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians.

Recognizing its role as Nova Scotia’s leading provider of post-secondary education for Mi'kmaq students, and its intimate interconnection with communities across Nova Scotia, NSCC has made a commitment to take deliberate, immediate steps to support this call to action.

Albert's history-making work has fundamentally influenced the work of NSCC, the education community, the province and our nation as a whole.

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