STU to Award Honorary Degrees to Alanis Obomsawin and David Myles
St. Thomas University will be recognizing Indigenous filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin and award-winning musician David Myles with honorary degrees at the Spring Convocation on Tuesday, May 14 at 2 pm.
“Both of these individuals are celebrated performing artists who use their voice to highlight social issues,” said Dawn Russell, STU President and Vice-Chancellor. “We are honoured to recognize their work.”
Alanis Obomsawin is an activist, filmmaker, and singer of Abenaki descent whose work focuses on First Nations and how government policies and everyday actions of others impact Indigenous people. She is currently completing her 52nd film, continuing to document the life and history of her people. Her most celebrated work, Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance, explored the Oka crisis of 1990 and won several awards worldwide, including the Best Canadian Feature Film Award at the Toronto International Film Festival. Obomsawin is also an accomplished singer. Beginning in New York in 1960, her singing career took her to Canada, the United States, and Europe where she performed at universities, museums, prisons, and art centres in support of humanitarian causes. Her 1988 album, Bush Lady, which features traditional songs of the Abenaki people and original compositions, has been re-mastered and re-released.
Obomsawin has been active with organizations that support Indigenous communities and Indigenous women. Among other groups, she has served on boards and committees for the Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal, the Canada Council (First Peoples Advisory Board), Studio 1 (National Film Board of Canada’s Aboriginal Studio), the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, and National Geographic International. She has received numerous awards, including a Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts and more than 30 international film awards. She is an Officer of the Order of Canada, Grand Officer of the National Order of Quebec, and has received the Humanitarian Award of the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television Hall of Fame. She holds honorary degrees from many universities including McGill, York, Concordia, Carleton, the University of British Colombia, Western, and Dalhousie.
David Myles is a songwriter, performer, and recording artist from Fredericton, who has had a celebrated musical career and raises money and awareness for food security. He discovered classical music and musical theatre at a young age and learned to play the trumpet as a member of various high school bands. He attended Mount Allison University and bought his first guitar during an international exchange in China. After earning his Bachelor of Arts in 2003, he began his music career. Over 14 years, he has released 13 albums and an EP that span numerous musical genres, including jazz, retro-rock, rhythm and blues, and country. His musical versatility has allowed him to collaborate with musicians as diverse as Joel Plaskett, Measha Brueggergosman, and Alex Cuba. His work with Classified resulted in Canada’s best-selling rap/hip-hop single of all time, “Inner Ninja”. He has won more than 25 awards for his music, including Music Nova Scotia Awards, East Coast Music Awards, Indie Music Awards, JUNO Awards, and SOCAN Awards. He was named Touring Artist of the Year at the Canadian Arts Presenting Association Awards in 2015.
His most recent recordings are his 2017 award-winning, vintage rock ‘n’ roll Real Love, and his 2018 lush Francophone pop Le grand départ. Myles has released Santa Never Brings Me a Banjo, a children’s book based on his Christmas song of the same name, and began a radio show, Myles From Home, on Alberta’s CKUA. He is also known for his charitable spirit. For more than a decade, he has spent every December travelling Eastern Canada on his “Singing for Supper Tour”. The tour has raised over $70K and hundreds of pounds in food donations for those in need. He also donates a portion of his Christmas album sales to community food banks.