CANADIAN ASTRONAUT AND COMMUNITY CHAMPION TO RECEIVE HONOURARY AWARDS

January 22, 2014 - 4:38am

Canadian astronaut Dr. Robert Thirsk and community fundraising champion Bruce Williams will receive honourary credentials at Vancouver Island University’s (VIU) winter convocation ceremonies at the Port Theatre in Nanaimo.

Dr. Thirsk is well known throughout Canada and the world for his contributions to global space exploration, and for fostering educational opportunities for Canadian students and educators. He became the first Canadian astronaut to fly on a long-duration expedition aboard the International Space Station, and spent 188 days living and working in space.

Dr. Thirsk will receive an Honorary Doctor of Laws at the Port Theatre in Nanaimo on January 31.

Bruce Williams, Manager of Community and Client Relations for CTV Vancouver Island and program host on CFAX 1070, will receive an Outstanding Service Award at VIU’s convocation ceremony on January 30. Williams is a widely sought-after and popular guest speaker, emcee, and event host on the Island. He has volunteered with almost every major community event and organization on Vancouver Island, including the VIU Foundation, and has helped raise millions of dollars for a wide variety of community causes.

VIU will award 255 master’s and bachelor’s degrees, diplomas and certificates in a variety of disciplines during the two-day winter convocation ceremonies.

The Honourable Judith Guichon, OBC, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, will be a special guest at the January 30 ceremony at which she will give an address to graduates.

Friends and family members around the world can watch the ceremonies live on the internet by going to the following link:

For more information or to view the convocation program visit:

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Backgrounder

Dr. Robert Thirsk -- Honorary Doctor of Laws – January 31 ceremony

Dr. Robert Thirsk’s passion for space exploration began in Powell River. His imagination piqued when his grade three teacher played a radio broadcast of astronaut John Glenn in the classroom.

Thirsk is well known throughout Canada and the world for his contributions to global space exploration, and for fostering educational opportunities for Canadian students and educators.

He was accepted for astronaut training with the Canadian Space Agency in 1983, selected from 4,000 applicants. One of his first roles as an astronaut was as Backup Payload Specialist for the October 1984 Space Shuttle Mission.

Dr. Thirsk’s first space flight experience came in 1996, when he spent over 17 days aboard Space Shuttle Columbia, conducting experiments devoted to the study of life and science.

In 2009, he became the first Canadian astronaut to fly on a long-duration expedition aboard the International Space Station. Arriving on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft, Thirsk and five international crewmates performed an unprecedented number of multidisciplinary research experiments. Landing back at Kazakhstan, Dr. Thirsk had lived and worked in space for 188 days during this second voyage.

Throughout his career, Dr. Thirsk has been a strong role model for youth, developing curricula for schools, and visiting universities to discuss his work. He conducted live downlink interviews with students during his 2009 space mission, including one very memorable 20-minute link with Powell River students and teachers. Dr. Thirsk encourages young Canadians to build their dreams upon a solid educational foundation.

In 2012, he joined the Canadian Institute of Health Research in Ottawa. As Vice-President of Public, Government, and Institute Affairs, Dr. Thirsk oversees the 13 institutes dedicated to health care issues such as aging and cancer research.

Dr. Thirsk holds a Bachelor and Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering, a Doctorate in Medicine and a Master of Business Administration.

His past honours include the Order of British Columbia, awarded in 2012; the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal in 2009; and the Outer Space Exploration Medal of Merit, awarded by the President of the Russian Federation in 2011.

Bruce Williams – Outstanding Service Award – January 30 ceremony

Children, youth, students, people with disabilities and serious illnesses, members of the business community, and animals have all benefited from Bruce William’s fundraising abilities.

As the Manager of Community and Client Relations for CTV Vancouver Island and program host on CFAX 1070, Williams has been involved with almost every major community event and organization on Vancouver Island. He is a widely sought-after and popular guest speaker, emcee, and event host.

Originally from Ontario, Williams moved to Vancouver Island in 2001 and became a popular on-air television personality for CTV’s Nanaimo bureau. He currently serves as host of ‘I Love This Island’ features on CTV Vancouver Island, and the daily radio show Café Victoria on CFAX 1070.

He continues his volunteer work with the Salvation Army, the BC SPCA, the Haven Society, Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island, Leadership Victoria, the Canadian Cancer Society, many Island Chambers of Commerce, Tourism Vancouver Island, Rotary, the Vancouver Island Economic Alliance, North Island Wildlife Recovery Association, and the Nanaimo Child Development Centre.

He currently serves on the Victoria Salvation Army Advisory Board, the Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation Board, and in the Campaign Cabinet for the Greater Victoria and the Central/North Vancouver Island United Way Campaigns.

Williams also serves as Board President of the Jeneece Edroff Society, and was formerly the Fundraising Co-Chair of the Jeneece Place Project for the Queen Alexandra Foundation for Children (now the Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island).

Williams is an active board member with the Vancouver Island University Foundation. A Foundation director since 2007, including two years as Chair, Williams is a key leader in VIU’s annual fundraising initiatives, including the Festival of Trees which he has emceed for more than 10 years.

He continues to publicly support and promote VIU’s programs and events, and help raise funds for student scholarships, bursaries and awards.

Williams has received many accolades recognizing his commitment to community service, including the 2012 Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal. He was named as one of the Top 20 Influencers on Vancouver Island by Douglas Magazine, and the 2013 Tourism MVP by Tourism Vancouver Island.

Williams also received the 2009 Chair’s Award of Distinction from the United Way of Canada, the BC Toastmasters 2010 Leadership and Communication Award for British Columbia, Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce 2010 Sterling Award as Citizen of the Year, and a 2012 Leadership Victoria Community Award.

MEDIA CONTACT Janina Stajic, Manager, Vancouver Island University P: 250-740-6288

E: Janina.Stajic@viu.ca Twitter: @VIUNews


Tags: In the Community