A University of Northern British Columbia founder and early champion Roy J. Stewart and world-renowned forensic anthropology expert Fredy Peccerelli are slated to receive honourary degrees at the 2017 convocation at UNBC’s Prince George campus on May 26.
Stewart is a long-time lawyer from Prince George who was appointed to the honourary title of Queen’s counsel in 2000. He served as the final President of the Interior University Society from 1989 to 1992 in a role that was instrumental in leading to the establishment of UNBC.
In a volunteer capacity, he continually developed relationships with the relevant government ministries and people of Central and Northern B.C. to accomplish the IUS’ overriding goal of building an independent, degree-granting research university.
Stewart’s tireless effort, as well as that of the IUS, led to the provincial legislature passing Bill 40, the UNBC Act, with all-party support on June 22, 1990 which officially created UNBC.
“The creation of UNBC was the result of the outstanding efforts of people who live and work in north central B.C. and I was privileged to be involved,” said Stewart. “The creation of UNBC reflects the aspirations, hopes and determination of all of us. Receiving an honorary degree is the highest award that can be made by UNBC and I am deeply honoured to be the recipient.”
Stewart served as chair of the UNBC Foundation from 1992 to 1995 and developed a fundraising campaign entitled North to the Future. The endowment effort permitted the new University to attract world-class scholars and the best students – enhancing UNBC’s credibility right from the start.
Besides being a strong advocate for UNBC, Stewart served as a trustee with School District 57 (Prince George) from 1981 to 1988, including as the board chair in 1984.
Stewart holds Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws degrees from the University of British Columbia. He practices municipal, construction and forestry law and handles commercial contract disputes and does general counsel work.
He served as chair of the Prince George Bar Association committee which led to the construction of the Court House at J.O. Wilson Square in Prince George and chair of the Northern Health Care Committee. Stewart will receive his honorary degree at the College of Arts, Social and Health Sciences ceremony on May 26 at 9:30 a.m.
Peccerelli is the executive director and founding member of the Forensic Anthropology Foundation of Guatemala (FAFG) and served as an Adjunct Professor in both UNBC’s Geography Program and Anthropology Departments in 2012-13.
In his role at FAFG, he leads the development of a Multidisciplinary Human Identification System that applies victim investigation, forensic archeology, forensic anthropology and forensic genetics to uncover the identity of victims of mass crimes, and the truth behind their disappearances.
Applied in more than 1,800 cases throughout the country, this system supports the search for, and identification of, victims from Guatemala’s internal armed conflict.
Peccerelli received and hosted the first UNBC Geography Field School to Guatemala in 2004 and since then a formal agreement has been developed between FAFG and UNBC. Several FAFG staff members have travelled to UNBC for courses and FAFG has received UNBC field school participants every two years plus several undergraduate and graduate students as interns.
In 2012, His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, the Governor General of Canada, travelled to Guatemala to award Peccerelli with a Special Honours Award in recognition of continued and exceptional service for the promotion of relations between Guatemala and Canada.
“FAFG and I consider this prestigious award as great recognition and admiration for the unique singed Agreement of Co-operation between FAFG and UNBC, along with the many exchanges and collaborations it has facilitated,” said Peccerelli. “I would personally consider a commemorative moment in my career to impart any words of my experience to the UNBC 2017 graduating class.”
Peccerelli will receive his honorary degree at the College of Science and Management ceremony on May 26 at 2:30 p.m.
In addition to the ceremonies in Prince George, UNBC is scheduled to hold convocation ceremonies in Gitwinksihlkw on May 29, Terrace on May 30, Quesnel on June 1 and Fort St. John on June 2.