TRU 2023 Honorary Degree Recipients


Verna Billy-Minnabarriet

Dr. Verna Billy-Minnabarriet – Doctor of Letters, honoris causa

Dr. Verna Billy-Minnabarriet of the St’uxwtews First Nation is a passionate educator who has fostered the growth of Indigenous learners and communities throughout British Columbia. She has championed Indigenous education, decolonization and economic development in her 35-year career with the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology (NVIT) and on many provincial, national and international associations and boards. Billy-Minnabarriet played a key role in building institutional partnerships for unique graduate programming, most recently the TRU/NVIT Master of Business Administration Indigenous cohort launched in 2022. She continues to create change as chair of the Indigenous Adult and Higher Learning Association, a consortium of 40 Indigenous post-secondary institutes in BC. Dr. Verna Billy-Minnabarriet’s contributions to education and community empowerment demonstrate the commitment to indigenization and decolonization that TRU strives to foster in its students.

Bev Sellars

Bev Sellars – Doctor of Letters, honoris causa

Bev Sellars of the Xatśūll (formerly Soda Creek) First Nation is an Indigenous lawyer, author, activist and former chief and councillor of the Xatśūll. A strong advocate for her community, she speaks out against racism, the residential school system and the exploitation of natural resources in her region. Sellars served as an advisor for the BC Treaty Commission and as a representative for the Secwépemc communities on the Cariboo Chilcotin Justice Inquiry. She has authored two books, They Called Me Number One and Price Paid: The Fight for First Nations Survival, was involved with various First Nations organizations and founded the Moccasin Footprint Society to highlight the vast contributions of Indigenous Peoples in North, Central and South America. Bev Sellars’s contributions to Indigenous rights in Canada demonstrate the leadership and commitment to equality that TRU strives to foster in its students.

Jorge Campos

Jorge Campos – Doctor of Letters, honoris causa

Jorge Campos is a former professional footballer (soccer player) from Mexico who gained fame for his athleticism, agility and speed both as a striker and goalkeeper, demonstrating a versatility that’s rare in the sport. Throughout his career, his passion, dedication and hard work allowed him to be a mentor and role model for youth around the world. During his 17-year career, Campos played in three FIFA World Cups, assistant coached in a fourth, led a team to the Confederation Cup and represented Mexico at the 1996 summer Olympics. He has dedicated his post-sports career to helping those in need, working with several organizations and creating his own foundation. With TRU World, he established the Jorge Campos Award that gives two outstanding Mexican youths full tuition for a year of study at TRU. His remarkable legacy of sport development and philanthropy epitomize the pursuit of excellence that TRU strives to foster in its students.

Christopher Weddell

Christopher Weddell – Doctor of Letters, honoris causa

Christopher Weddell has made extraordinary contributions to British Columbia’s professional theatre community in so many roles: actor, director, dramaturge, playwright, producer and even owner of theatre companies. During his 47-year career, he has enhanced the learning and lives of hundreds of students, including graduates of TRU’s Theatre Arts program. Since 2000, Weddell has taught acting and playwriting at the Canadian College of Performing Arts in Victoria. He has been nominated for a Jessie Richardson Theatre Award in acting for Much Ado About Nothing and in directing for Richard II. In 2020, Weddell was honoured with a Lekwungen ceremonial blanket for his collaborative piece about the John A. MacDonald statue debate, Mr. Speaker, with Ben Alto-Bond. Christopher Weddell’s contributions to all aspects of the theatre arts and the cultivation of future artists as an educator and mentor exemplifies the commitment to cultural sustainability that TRU strives to inspire in its students.

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