Vancouver Island University will grant former B.C. premier Mike Harcourt an honorary doctorate of laws degree at winter convocation Friday (Jan. 29).
Harcourt, who served as premier between 1991-96, said he was surprised and delighted when he received the news. The notable points on his resumé include his NDP government’s introduction of the Growth Strategy Act in 1995, which promoted sustainable development.
Harcourt said sustainable development adheres to four values that “react holistically and in an integrated way.” He said they are a prosperous economy, a healthy environment, social equity and a culture that relishes diversity and creativity. Harcourt said he helped with the region’s sustainability strategy in early 2000 and lauded Nanaimo for its sustainability efforts.
“Nanaimo has gone from being the city with the greatest amount of sprawl/strip mall/commercial space per capita in North America to really trying to become sustainable, with building up the inner city and people living in and around the downtown and different ways of doing the four dimensions … particularly trying to build a new relationship with the Snuneymuxw First Nation,” said Harcourt.
Harcourt said Nanaimo should utilize the intellectual talent at the university in its sustainability efforts.
He said the university is a model for putting the community first and being engaged in issues of importance in and around Nanaimo, whether it is relations with the First Nations and First Nations becoming self-governing and self-sufficient economically, diversifying the economy or ensuring people in Nanaimo have the skills and education needed for the high-tech, Asia-based economy that the world is evolving toward.
Graduation ceremonies take place Thursday (Jan. 28) and Friday at the Port Theatre in downtown Nanaimo.
Also receiving honorary credentials will be Patrick Lane, a B.C. poet and author, and Katelin Albert, a university alumna and current doctoral candidate in sociology at the University of Toronto.