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Loyalist announces convocation guest speakers

Hundreds of students will become graduates of Loyalist College this week during four convocation ceremonies. The college announced guest speakers for the ceremonies on Thursday, June 4 and Friday, June 5 in the Kente Building.

Thursday, June 4 at 10 a.m. graduates of the  School of Health Sciences and Human Studies are to hear from Sandie Sidsworth, Executive Director of the Canadian Mental Health Association in Hastings and Prince Edward (CMHA-HPE).

Sidsworth has more than 25 years of experience in child welfare, addictions, domestic violence and mental health. As Executive Director of CMHA-HPE, she provides support for people dealing with mental illness by focusing on community counseling programs and support for homelessness.

In partnership with the Women’s College Hospital Research Institute, she has developed ‘Connecting the Dots,’ a service delivery model for domestic violence, mental health and addictions, which she facilitates across the province.

Among other accomplishments, she created and organized the annual ‘Sleep Out So Others Can Sleep In,’ a fundraiser that provides funds for much-needed repairs to local homes and gives volunteers an appreciation of homelessness by spending a night outdoors in downtown Belleville in January.

Sidsworth is a Loyalist College graduate, having completed a Social Service Worker diploma in 1998 and a Bachelor of Applied Arts, Human Services Management degree in 2005.  She was presented with the Loyalist College Alumni Distinction Award in 2013. In addition, Ms. Sidsworth acts as liaison with the National Hoarding Coalition, of which she is a member, and provides hoarding training to Belleville Police Service.

Ceremonies begin at 2:30 pm for graduates of the School of Applied Sciences, Skills and Technology (Biosciences and Building Sciences) and School of Justice Studies

The guest speaker is to be Nobel Peace Prize nominee Ms. Sheila Watt-Cloutier, a Canadian Inuit advocate who was born in Kuujjuaq, Nunavik and resides in Iqaluit, Nunavut.

She recently released her first book: The Right to be Cold: One Woman’s Story of Protecting Her Culture, the Arctic and the Whole Planet. Through her memoir, she chronicles the challenges of climate change as it relates to the human rights of people living in the Arctic. In 2005, she was honoured with the United Nations Champion of the Earth Award and the inaugural Northern Medal, awarded to citizens whose achievements have contributed to the evolution and constant reaffirmation of the Canadian North as part of our national identity.

In 2006, Ms. Watt-Cloutier received the International Environmental Leadership Award from Global Green, the Citation of Lifetime Achievement from the Canadian Environment Awards and the Earth Day Canada International Environment Award. She was also made an Officer in the Order of Canada. In 2007, the year she was publicly nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by members of the Norwegian parliament, she was awarded the Mahbub ul Haq Human Development Award by Secretary General Ban Ki Moon at the U.N. Human Development Awards in New York. In 2010, she was named one of 25 Transformational Canadians by the Globe and Mail and CTV, and in 2012 her life’s work was memorialized in a Canadian Stamp commemorating the Jubilee Year, having been recognized by Canada Post as one of four ‘Canadians who made a difference.’

Through the years, Watt-Cloutier has been awarded a number of honorary doctorates. She remains connected to her life’s work through activism and advocacy work which includes membership as Commissioner on the civil society Commission on Arctic Climate Change led by the Aspen Institute.

On Friday, June 5, at 10 a.m., ceremonies begin for graduates of the School of Applied Sciences, Skills and Technology and School of Business

The guest speaker is Gail Smyth, Executive Director of Skills Ontario, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting skilled trades and technologies careers to young people in Ontario.

Smyth first became involved with Skills Ontario as a volunteer in 1990, immersing herself in numerous roles and responsibilities. She was appointed as full-time Executive Director in 1997. Since then, she has taken a fledgling venture to a dynamic, province-wide organization with headquarters in Kitchener and satellite offices in London, Ottawa, Peterborough, Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury, Thunder Bay, Toronto and Windsor. I

n the beginning, two programs were offered across Ontario: the Ontario Technological Skills Competition (OTSC) and cardboard boat races, with a total outreach of about 3,000 students. Today, the Ontario Technological Skills Competition has grown into the largest of its kind in Canada, attracting more than 30,000 visitors yearly. Skills Ontario has come a long way from the early days when Smyth first took the helm — moving the organization from a modest mandate to a financially-viable venture, which now reaches more than one million students annually.

As a result of her vision, the organization has earned high-level recognitions through the Yves Landry Program of the Year Award, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce Outstanding Business Achievement Award for Skills Development, and the ICON Program of the Year to the Partners for Change Award from the Ontario Women’s Directorate.

Smyth also received an Honorary Diploma in Technology from Niagara College in 2013. She has been appointed as a member of the Appointments Council for the Ontario College of Trades, the Board of Governors at Centennial College, the Canadian Association of Women in Construction and the Appointments Council for the Ministry of Education.

At 2:30 p.m.  School of Media, Arts + Design and School of Continuing Education, are to hear from  Chantal Hébert, a national affairs writer and political columnist with the Toronto Star and a guest columnist for L’Actualité in Québec.

She is a weekly participant on the political panel ‘At Issue’ on CBC’s The National, as well as on Les Coulisses du Pouvoir and the Montréal show ‘C’est pas trop tôt’ on Radio-Canada. A graduate of Glendon College, York University, Hébert cut her teeth in politics at Queen’s Park in the late 70s. Since then she has reported in French and in English on topics such as Canada’s constitutional and referendum wars and the 1988 free-trade debate.

She began her career in Toronto as a reporter for the regional newsroom of Radio-Canada in 1975 before moving to Parliament Hill in Ottawa for Radio-Canada. She has served as parliamentary bureau chief for Le Devoir and La Presse, two Montreal-based newspapers. She is a Senior Fellow of Massey College at the University of Toronto and holds five honorary degrees. She is a recipient of two Asia-Pacific media fellowships from Malaysia and Japan.

Hébert is the 2005 recipient of the APEX Public Service Award. In 2006, she received the Hy Solomon Award for Excellence in Journalism and Public Policy, as well as York University’s Pinnacle Achievement Bryden Alumni award. Her second book, ‘The Morning After,’ was published in September 2014.  She won a 2014 National Magazine Award (gold) for her political column in L’actualité and is an officer of the Order of Canada.

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