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Lifelong contribution

Honorary degree recipients, English professor named to Order of Canada

Campus and Community

Three remarkable individuals with ties to Memorial University have been named members of the Order of Canada by Governor General David Johnston.

Honorary degree recipients Dr. Timothy Borlase and Dr. Zita Cobb and English professor and orator Shane O’Dea were named members, a designation that recognizes outstanding contributions on a local or regional level.

The Order of Canada is the highest civilian honour in Canada and recognizes a lifetime of outstanding achievement, dedication to community and service to the nation.

Dr. Timothy Borlase

Dr. Borlase is a longtime educator specializing in the needs of Aboriginal and isolated youth in communities across Labrador. He’s being recognized for those teaching initiatives as well as his contributions to music, arts and drama. Among his literary endeavours, Mr. Borlase created and directed a series of radio programs for the CBC on Inuit education and the expanding role of the school in northern communities. He has served as chair for the board of directors for Them Days magazine, a quarterly journal whose mandate is the preservation of Labrador’s distinct cultural heritage. He is the author of nine books, including Who Asked Us Anyway?, a compilation of scripts documenting the first 20 years of the Labrador Creative Arts Festival, and Tusanittut, a book of nursery rhymes and songs in Inuktitut. Among other honours, Mr. Borlase has received the 1999 Happy Valley-Goose Bay Arts Achievement Award, the 1992 Best Director and Best Production awards at the Newfoundland and Labrador Drama Festival, and a Lifetime Achievement in the Arts Award from the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council. He was awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree from Memorial in 2001.

Dr. Zita Cobb

Raised on Fogo Island, Dr. Cobb has brought hope to her hometown and other communities in Newfoundland and Labrador that have suffered from steep outmigration since the Canadian government imposed a commercial cod fishing moratorium in 1992. With her brother Tony, who co-founded the Shorefast Foundation with her, Ms. Cobb envisioned the transformation of Fogo Island and Change Islands into a world model of community innovation and cultural resilience. The foundation built a 29-room inn and several artist studios on Fogo Island, designed to the highest sustainability standards, with the goal of creating jobs and drawing international attention to the decline of rural areas. The inn has since generated more than 100 jobs in a community numbering approximately 2,000 residents. Ms. Cobb’s vision for the inn, and for all of Shorefast’s activities, is to change the way people think about building a sustainable world that respects diverse cultures and the natural environment while embracing business innovation to serve society. The inn has garnered substantial worldwide attention for its commitment to sustainability and respect for cultural traditions. Dr. Cobb was awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree in 2015.

Prof. Shane O’Dea

Prof. O’Dea is being recognized for his contributions to Memorial University as a longtime educator with the Department of English and as public orator and for his impact as an advocate for the preservation of built heritage in Newfoundland and Labrador. Prof. O’Dea has been the recipient of several teaching awards, including the Canadian Professor of the Year in 1988. He was Memorial’s first Distinguished Teacher of the Year and in 2002 he was made a 3M Teaching Fellow. Prof. O’Dea has also long been involved with preservation in Newfoundland and Labrador. He has chaired the boards of Heritage Canada, the Newfoundland Heritage Foundation, the Newfoundland Historic Trust and the Newfoundland Historical Society. Co-author of two books on Newfoundland and Labrador buildings, he has published a number of articles and reviews in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography, the Macmillan Encyclopedia of Architects, the Canadian Review of American Studies and Newfoundland Studies. For his preservation work, in 1990 he was recognized with the Lieutenant Governor’s Award and in 2005 he was appointed to the Order of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Awarded for the first time in 1967, during Canada’s Centennial Year, the Order of Canada launched the creation of our country’s own system of honours.

Recipients will be invited to accept their insignia at a ceremony to be held at a later date.


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