Trent University Celebrates Eight Inspirational Alumni at Annual Awards Ceremony

Alumni award winners Eight exceptional Trent alumni were recognized for outstanding contributions to their fields, their communities, and to the University at the 11thAnnual Alumni Awards Ceremony, held in the Great Hall of Champlain College at Trent University on Saturday, April 30, 2016.

Alumni, staff, faculty and special guests gathered to celebrate the achievements of Fiona Sampson’87, a pioneering human rights lawyer; Dr. Tim Cook ‘90, a Governor General Award winning historian; Diane Therrien ‘10, a Peterborough City Councillor; Kate Ramsay ’71, a longstanding Trent Board of Governorsmember; Lorraine Bennett ’72, a volunteer leader in Vancouver, BC; and the organizers of one of Trent’s longest traditions, the Team Trend Hockey Reunion, David Wright ’74, William Fields ’71, and John Kennedy ’85.

“Our Trent alumni have gone on to accomplish incredible things and the honorees we’re celebrating today are no exception,” said Dr. Leo Groarke, president and vice-chancellor of Trent University. “Celebrating successful alumni from such diverse fields showcases the true value an interdisciplinary education at Trent offers.”

The afternoon event featured memorable musical performances by Trent alumna Athena Reich ’95 – recently named the world’s top Lady Gaga impersonator by Chatelaine Magazine. Special guests included members of the University’s Board of Governors, president of the Trent University Alumni Association Jess Grover ‘02, Trent alumnus and emcee DJ Cunningham ‘01, and several previous Alumni Award winners. Also in attendance was leading business thinker Dr. Don Tapscott ’66, Trent University chancellor. At the event,Dr. Tapscott, who is Trent’s first alumni chancellor, was celebrated and reappointed chancellor for a second three-year term.

“The Alumni Awards event is a highlight of the year for the Alumni Association,” said Lee Hays, director ofAlumni Affairs at Trent University. “This is a chance to celebrate alumni who are building communities and changing the world.  This year’s recipients have made extensive contributions in humanitarianism, history, education, and social justice, and it’s a true honour to welcome them back to Trent for this recognition.”

At the event, alumni were honoured in four award categories: the Distinguished Alumni Award; the Spirit of Trent Award; Young Leader Award, and the Tony Storey Service Award.

The 2016 Alumni Award recipients are:

Distinguished Alumni Award

Presented based on a person's achievement and leadership in their field. Recipients show leadership in business, industry, a profession, or in public life. They have brought honour to Trent University through endeavours which have earned them prominence within their field.

Fiona Sampson ‘87

Ms. Sampson has dedicated her life to the pursuit of inclusiveness, equality, and social justice.  A graduate of Trent’s Canadian Studies and Indigenous Studies MA program, with a PhD in Law, she has pioneered post-Charter equality law, both in Canada and abroad.

As a human rights lawyer, Ms. Sampson has appeared before the Supreme Court representing women and NGO’s in equality rights.  She has published extensively on disability, gender, and other issues of discrimination and served as an advisor to organizations dedicated to legal equality, such as the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF).

Ms. Sampson now serves as an appointed member of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, and is executive director of the Equality Effect (EE), an organization she founded in 2008. This innovative venture ensures that women in countries with common law traditions have access to legal counsel and support as they attempt to secure justice for women, especially relating to sexual assault cases.  Both EE and Fiona have received awards for their innovative human rights work, including the Lewis Perinbam Award (for human rights), and the Clifford Chance Access to Justice Award.

This passion for social justice has led Ms. Sampson to lend time, energy, and expertise to her community, taking on roles such as Women’s Gender Equality Advisor with the Ethiopian Muslim Relief and Development Association, Pro-Bono Counsel for Mt. Pleasant Moraine Environmental Protection Group, and member of the Thalidomide Victims’ Association Equality Rights Committee.

Ms. Sampson was recently appointed an Ashoka Fellow, given the 2014 New York State Bar Association’s Distinction in International Affairs Award from its International Section, and named one of Canada’s Top 25 most influential lawyers by Canadian Lawyers magazine.   Earlier this year, she was honoured with one of Canada’s highest distinctions, membership in the Order of Canada.

Tim Cook ‘90

A military historian and author, Mr. Cook has successfully ignited passionate interest in Canada’s military past.

He was the curator for the First World War permanent gallery at the Canadian War Museum (CWM), and has curated additional temporary, traveling, and digital exhibitions. He was also responsible for the historical content of For Crown and Country: The South African and First World Wars, as well as for two special exhibitions: Trench Life: A Survival Guide (2008) and War and Medicine (2011). He is currently the Director of Research for the CWM.

In 2012, he was awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for his contributions to Canadian history and in 2013 he received the Governor General’s History Award for Popular Media: The Pierre Burton Award. The award was given to Cook for his work making military history "more accessible, vivid and factual", both in his role as an author and as the First World War Historian at the Canadian War Museum. In 2014, Tim Cook was named a member of the Order of Canada in recognition of his contributions to promoting Canada’s military history as an author, researcher and curator. For the past four years, Tim has been battling Hodgkin’s Disease and recently underwent a stem cell transplant as part of his treatment.  He endeavored to continue writing throughout his illness and made time for speaking events as his health permitted.

Young Leader Award

Recognizes young alumni who have shown outstanding leadership throughout their first 10 years of alumni status either in their professional career and/or community, public or humanitarian service, and are 35 years of age or younger.

Diane Therrien ‘10

Elected to Peterborough City Council in 2014, Ms. Therrien believes in challenging the political status quo.  She is a staunch advocate for the downtown community and frequently participates in and supports local events and businesses. Utilizing her voice in Council, Ms. Therrien regularly advocates for increased resources for marginalized groups within the city.

Before being elected, Ms. Therrien worked with the Peterborough Poverty Reduction Network (PPRN), where she proved herself a leader in local efforts to reduce poverty in Peterborough. She has run workshops, both at Trent and in the surrounding community, spoken with students and community groups, and been integral in securing funding for important initiatives to address the high rates of poverty in the City of Peterborough.

First Nations rights have remained a major focus for Ms. Therrien.  She was a policy advisor for the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs and has worked on several projects advocating for an improvement in both health services and post-secondary involvement for First Nations citizens.

Ms. Therrien continues to actively participate in academic life at Trent, frequently giving guest lectures in a variety of departments, most recently in Gender and Women’s Studies and in Political Studies.

Spirit of Trent Award

Presented to alumni who have made a difference, through contributions to the University, the alumni association, or the community.

Lorraine Bennett ‘72

Ms. Bennett heads up the leadership committee of the Vancouver chapter of the Trent Alumni Association, and has worked hard to elevate the group into one of the most active and innovative chapters in the alumni chapter network. Her leadership style is collaborative and engaging, based on gathering input and feedback.  She is dedicated to delivering quality results.

Through Ms. Bennett’s guidance, the Vancouver Chapter has hosted a variety of successful events under the “Vancouver TrentTalks” banner.

Ms. Bennett is deeply committed to finding innovative ways connect alumni to the Trent tennet of lifelong learning, and in promoting the Trent Alumni Association as a key means of sharing that philosophy.

Her work with the Alumni Association is but a continuation of her history of volunteerism.  Ms. Bennett has given her energies to numerous causes, from The Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games to Immigrant Services Society of BC to BLG Reads to Kids (where she works one-to-one with individual children to assist and encourage the development of their reading skills).

David Wright ‘74, Bill Fields ‘71, John Kennedy ‘85 (Team Trend)

Mr. Wright, Mr. Fields, and Mr. Kennedy all share a faithful commitment to the Trent community and an absolute love of the game of hockey.  Year after year, they combine these two passions to organize and host the Team Trend Reunion weekend – one of Trent’s oldest and most valued traditions.

Each have been integral to an event that demonstrates the values and lessons learned at Trent.  They continue to display the Spirit of Trent by bringing the community together for a weekend of friendly competition, shared memories, and celebratory food and drink.

For the past 40 years, the Team Trend Reunion has remained a standout alumni event and a valued part of alumni life.

Tony Storey Service Award

Presented to an alumni volunteer who has demonstrated a significant and long-term commitment to the Trent University Alumni Association (TUAA).

Kate Ramsay ‘71

Ms. Ramsay has exhibited extraordinary leadership and dedication to both Trent University and the Trent University Alumni Association. She has shown an unparalleled level of involvement in guiding her alma mater.

First appointed as an alumni member to the Board of Governors in 2001, Ms. Ramsay has provided a deep commitment to ensuring that alumni have an active voice in university governance.  She has encouraged association members to stay informed while raising Trent administrative awareness of alumni talent and expertise.

She has served as a Board visitor to Senate, vice chair of the Board, chair of the Executive Committee, chair of the HR Subcommittee and member of the Names Committee.

Volunteer roles included membership of the Presidency Review Committee (2003 and 2008), membership of the search team for the Board chair (2007), and membership of the Presidential Search Committee (2008).

Ms. Ramsay served for nine years on the Advancement Committee and on the Fundraising Council that raised $5.6 million for the Building Capacity and Peter Gzowski College campaigns. She also chaired the Catharine Parr Traill campaign which raised $2.1 million.  In 2014, she co-chaired the highly successful Chancellor’s 50th Anniversary Gala.

Ms. Ramsay was one of the lead fundraisers in establishing the Jack Matthews Fellowship endowment, created to honour Jack Matthew’s founding contributions to the Trent International Program, Lakefield College School and the Canadian Canoe Museum.

Honorary Alumni Membership

Presented to individuals who have made a significant contribution to the life of the University or the Alumni Association and who are selected by the Council of the Association to be known as an honorary member. The honorary alumni memberships were presented to:  Bryan Davies, Chair of Trent’s Board of Governors; Dr. Michael Allcott, director of Trent’s International Program; and Sonja Bata, long-time friend of the University.

About Trent University

One of Canada's top universities, Trent University was founded on the ideal of interactive learning that's personal, purposeful and transformative. Consistently recognized nationally for leadership in teaching, research and student satisfaction, Trent attracts excellent students from across the country and around the world. Here, undergraduate and graduate students connect and collaborate with faculty, staff and their peers through diverse communities that span residential colleges, classrooms, disciplines, hands-on research, co-curricular and community-based activities. Across all disciplines, Trent brings critical, integrative thinking to life every day. Today, Trent's unique approach to personal development through supportive, collaborative community engagement is in more demand than ever. Students lead the way by co-creating experiences rooted in dialogue, diverse perspectives and collaboration. In a learning environment that builds life-long passion for inclusion, leadership and social change, Trent's students, alumni, faculty and staff are engaged global citizens who are catalysts in developing sustainable solutions to complex issues. Trent's Peterborough campus boasts award-winning architecture in a breathtaking natural setting on the banks of the Otonabee River, just 90 minutes from downtown Toronto, while Trent University Durham delivers a distinct mix of programming in the east GTA.

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