Bishop’s to bestow Townships with honorary degree at upcoming convocation

Bishop’s to bestow Townships with honorary degree at upcoming convocation
Bishop’s University on the sunny day of May 30 (Photo : Matthew McCully)

By William Crooks

Local Journalism Initiative

Bishop’s University (BU) Chancellor Daniel Fournier will preside over its 197th Convocation ceremony June 1, where degrees will be conferred upon over 600 graduates from the Class of 2024. At the ceremony, honorary degrees will be bestowed on two eminent individuals for their achievements, and the Community of the Townships for coming together last fall to support BU during the tuition crisis. The Record spoke with BU’s principal and a member of the Townships’ Mobilization Committee on the significance of the latter honour.


“Convocation marks an important milestone for all Bishop’s University graduates, a memorable life event for students who have been the heart of our community in recent years,” stated Fournier in a May 27 release.

“They are now ready to face the new challenges that await them, and we are confident that they are well prepared to do so.”

This year’s Doctorates in Civil Law (D.C.L.) honorands include Elisapie, an Inuk singer-songwriter, director, and activist; Dr. George Siber ’66, an internationally recognised vaccine expert; and the Community of the Eastern Townships, represented by the Mobilization Committee, including Claude Belleau, Louise Bourgault, Yannick Crack, Chantal Lessard, and Jean Perrault, created to support BU during the tuition crisis. The ceremony will also highlight the contributions of recipients of academic excellence and community engagement awards.

The convocation ceremonies will take place at 10 a.m. for graduates from the Schools of Business and Education, where Siber will receive an honorary degree. The ceremony for graduates from the Humanities, Social Sciences, and Natural Sciences & Mathematics Divisions of the Faculty of Arts & Science will follow at 2:30 p.m., where Elisapie will receive an honorary degree. Representatives of the Eastern Townships community will be presented with honorary degrees at both ceremonies.

Graduating students Sébastien Élie and Renée Rosteius have been selected as Valedictorians for Convocation 2024 and will deliver their addresses during the morning and afternoon ceremonies, respectively.

Special Indigenous Convocation Ceremony

On Friday, May 31, the Indigenous Student Support Centre will hold a graduation ceremony for Indigenous students and their families, welcoming members of the Indigenous community from Odanak to partake in this significant event.

“The Class of 2024 deserves our esteem and congratulations for successfully completing their respective programmes. Convocation is also an occasion to celebrate those who have gone above and beyond, giving our community the best of themselves,” said BU Principal and Vice-Chancellor Sébastien Lebel-Grenier.

Local and ecological flowers during Convocation

In collaboration with local flower producers Les Jardins d’Etc. (Bury) and Wild Thing (Stanstead), BU is the first university to partner with the Association des productrices et producteurs de fleurs coupées du Québec (APFCQ) as part of its Sustainable Development Plan. Flowers will be available on June 1 at the John H. Price Sports Centre from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Families are encouraged to order in advance by visiting the Bishop’s Local Flowers for Convocation website.

2024 Honorands




Elisapie, born and raised in Salluit, a small village in Nunavik accessible only by plane, is an iconic Canadian Inuk singer-songwriter. Her fourth solo record, “Inuktitut,” won the 2024 Juno Award for Best Contemporary Indigenous Artist. The album features ten covers of classic rock and pop songs from the 1960s to the 1990s, translated into Inuktitut, her mother tongue.

Elisapie’s reimagining of these songs is an act of cultural reappropriation, telling her story through this musical journey. Since winning her first Juno Award in 2005 with her band Taima, her work has garnered critical acclaim, including her 2018 album “The Ballad of the Runaway Girl,” which was shortlisted for the Polaris Music Prize and earned numerous Félix Awards.

Elisapie has performed with the Orchestre Métropolitain de Montréal, at New York City’s Central Park SummerStage Festival, in NPR’s Tiny Desk Session, and at various venues and festivals globally. Beyond her music career, she is recognised for her acting roles in TV series and experimental films.

As a dedicated activist, she produced the first Canada-wide broadcast TV show to celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day, “Le grand solstice” (2021, 2022, 2023), and directed the National Film Board documentary “If the Weather Permits” (2003). Through her company, Sanajik Films, she produces documentaries from Indigenous and Inuit perspectives.

Dr. George Siber

George Siber, MD

Siber is an infectious disease-trained physician with over 40 years of experience in developing vaccines and antibody products. He is an adjunct professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins Medical School, a visiting researcher at the Institute of Microbiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and president of Siber Biotechnologies LLC.

From 1996 to 2007, Siber served as executive vice president and chief scientific officer of Wyeth Vaccines (now Pfizer), leading the development and approval of innovative childhood vaccines, including the first pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (Prevenar 7 and 13), the first rotavirus diarrhoea vaccine (Rotashield), the first meningococcal meningitis conjugate vaccine (Meningitec), and the first nasal influenza vaccine (FluMist).

Before his work in big pharma, Siber was Harvard Medical School Associate Professor of Medicine at Dana Farber Cancer Institute and director of the Massachusetts Public Health Biologic Laboratories, where he developed several vaccines and immune globulins, including the first antibody licensed for respiratory syncytial virus (Respigam), leading to the development of monoclonal antibodies to RSV (Synagis and Beyfortus).

Currently, Siber is a vaccine consultant to biotechnology companies, NGOs, and government bodies. He co-founded and served on the Board of Affinivax, which developed a 24-valent pneumococcal vaccine acquired by GSK in 2022. Dr. Siber serves on the Scientific Advisory Boards of AdVaccine, CanSino, Clover, ILiAD, Valneva, Vaxart, and Vaxxinity and has consulted for NIH, EU, WHO, and the Gates Foundation.

He was a trustee of the International Vaccine Institute and received multiple awards, including the 2016 Albert Sabin Gold Medal in vaccinology. Siber holds a BSc from BU, an MD from McGill University, and completed post-doctoral training in Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases at institutions affiliated with Harvard Medical School.

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