2013 Alumni Recognition Awards

    A human rights champion. A space doctor. An alternative energy innovator. Meet Alumni who have made a difference in the world

    By Rick Pilger on August 9, 2013

    A human rights champion. An educator who brightens lives. A space doctor. An alternative energy innovator. Meet Alumni who have made a difference in the world, earning the alumni association’s highest honours.


    The Alumni Association’s most prestigious award recognizing a living graduate whose truly outstanding achievements have earned them national or international prominence

    Standing Up for What’s Right

    As a lawyer, he played a role in one of the Supreme Court’s most important decisions on human rights. Now, Douglas Stollery, ’76 LLB, sees retirement as an opportunity to give even more back in every way he can.

    It is typical of Douglas Stollery that, as he considers his imminent retirement, his main concern isn’t what exotic locales to visit or how many rounds of golf he will get in. Rather, he’s wondering how he can do some good in the world.

    “I hope to find some way of using the knowledge I’ve acquired over 60 years to help make the world a better place,” he says. Read more>>

    Dignity, Respect and a Smile

    More than six decades ago, Sister Annata Brockman, ’65 MEd, chose to let God take the lead on her life, changing her own destiny and that of countless others.

    Sister Annata Brockman could point to any number of accomplishments to indicate a life well-spent.

    She has had both a school and a bursary named after her. Won prestigious awards from Newman Theological College in Edmonton. Was the first woman to receive a master’s degree in educational administration from the University of Alberta. Was named a Woman of Vision by Global TV Edmonton. She even helped organize the church arrangements for Wayne Gretzky’s wedding. Read more >>

    Energy and Innovation

    Greg Abel, ’84 BCom, started with an affinity for finance. Now he has a direct line to Warren Buffett and is leading development on the largest solar power project in the world.

    When Greg Abel began business school at the University of Alberta, he quickly gained an appreciation for numbers. In particular, he gained an appreciation for the numbers that — properly analyzed — give insight into a business’s performance.

    “I started with a stronger interest in finance,” he recalls, “but accounting took over when I came to realize how critically important it was to understand things such as income and cash flow statements.”

    Today, as chairman, president and CEO of the diversified energy company MidAmerican Energy Holdings, Abel puts what he learned about analyzing numbers to good use. Read more >>

    Boosting Canada’s Reputation in Space 

    While working for NASA, Douglas Hamilton, ’80 BSc(ElecEng), ’84 MSc, made space safer for astronauts. Back in Canada, he’s turning his attention to improving medicine in the remote regions of his home country

    When Douglas Hamilton was an engineering graduate student at the U of A, he had a flash of insight that would alter his life.

    Hami — as he’s known around the world and in the near regions of space — has always had a fascination with how things work, so engineering was a logical career path for him.

    It was while he was a master’s student designing surgical lasers that he began looking into human physiology. And that’s when it hit him: The human body is “just one huge, incredible, complex, negative feedback and control system.” Read more >>


    Recognizes the significant contributions made over a number of years by alumni in their local communities and beyond

    Jodi Abbott, ’93 MEd, ’96 PhD, has officiated at the most elite skating competitions in the world, including the Olympic Games, four International Skating Union world championships and the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating. One of several individuals chosen to revamp the judging system following the 2002 Olympic Winter Games, she played a significant role in designing the system now used for judging figure skating. Abbott, president of Norquest College in Edmonton, has long been an advocate for people with disabilities and a champion for improved health-care services. Her impressive career history includes senior positions with the Canadian Paraplegic Association in Edmonton, Catholic Social Services, the Canadian Diabetes Association and Capital Health.

    Peter B.R. Allen, ’54 BSc, ’56 MD, was well-known internationally for his contributions to medicine, particularly in the field of neurosurgery. Allen, who practised in Edmonton and held a U of A clinical appointment, was respected for his surgical skills and his equanimity under the most trying circumstances. Early in his distinguished career, he was named divisional director of neurosurgery and went on to create Alberta’s first formal training program in neurosurgery. At the national level, he served as president of the Canadian Neurological Society and chief examiner in neurosurgery for the Royal College of Surgeons. After retiring from medicine, Allen joined Alberta’s Criminal Injuries Review Board, serving as board chair for 10 years. The U of A Hospital renamed its neurosciences ICU after Allen last November. (Sadly, Allen passed away in April.)

    Steele C. Brewerton, ’45 BSc, ’48 MD, loved helping people and practising medicine. Now 90 years old, he continues to keep abreast of medical developments. During years of general practice, Brewerton did a residency in obstetrics/gynecology and surgery. Practising in southern Alberta, he made house calls in both town and country. He followed 31 years of practice in Alberta with another 17 in Texas. He delivered thousands of babies without one maternal death or lawsuit. In the communities in which he lived, he gave generously of his time. He was councillor and mayor in Magrath, Alta., and served as the branch president of the Latter-day Saints congregation in Graham, Texas, for 15 years.

    Elizabeth “Betty” Davies (Bruce)
    , ’69 Dip(Nu), ’70 BScN, is a tireless advocate for children with life-threatening conditions and their families, and she has contributed extensively to both knowledge and practice related to hospice care for children. Her work has helped nurses and other health-care workers, as well as family members, deal with one of the most traumatic experiences a human can encounter — the death of a child. Davies, whose extensive publications include three books, began her academic career at the U of A before accepting appointments at UBC and then at the University of California San Francisco. While in Vancouver, Davies founded the Canuck Place Children’s Hospice and served on its board for many years. She is now an adjunct professor and senior scholar at the University of Victoria.

    Katherine Dekker, ’81 BEd, ’95 Dip(Ed), ’03 MEd, is an innovative educator committed to improving the lives of her students in a positive and respectful way. As principal of St. Francis of Assisi Elementary School in Edmonton, she oversees a learning environment where 55 per cent of the students come from First Nations or Métis homes and another 40 per cent are of African background. Dekker has taken measures to better integrate the two groups, providing for sharing cultural backgrounds and greater understanding. She is also tireless in her efforts to provide students with the nutrition they need to fully engage in their studies. In addition, she keeps everyone focused on the fundamentals that underpin learning. In 2012, the Learning Partnership recognized her as one of Canada’s outstanding principals.

    Robert Dowling, ’55 BSc(Pharm), has made significant contributions to his community, his province and his country over the course of seven decades. His service to Canada began in 1942 when he volunteered and served as a pilot in the Royal Canadian Air Force. His subsequent career in pharmacy took him to Jasper, Alta., where he owned the Cavell and Whistlers drug stores and worked assiduously to obtain municipal status for the community. In 1969, he was elected to the Alberta legislature to represent the constituency of Edson. He served in several cabinet positions focusing primarily on business and tourism. Following his time in elected office, Dowling served as commissioner for Alberta’s 75th anniversary celebrations and later led the province’s participation at Expo 86 in Vancouver.

    Ken Eshpeter
    , ’71 BSc(Ag), is widely admired in his community as a leader, organizer, public speaker, poet, writer and singer. A longtime resident of Daysland, Alta., he has been a pioneer in all he has done — from his innovative agricultural techniques to spearheading the formation of Alberta’s first successful short-line railway. He is currently chair and CEO of Battle River Railway, which not only serves the grain-handling needs of its shareholder-farmers but also ships sweet crude — and may soon offer passenger service. He has held office as the reeve of Flagstaff County and was a key volunteer involved in the preservation and resurrection of the Daysland Palace Theatre, now a thriving community focal point.

    Richard Fedorak, ’76 BMedSc, ’78 MD, has provided insight into the diagnosis and treatment of intestinal diseases such as peptic ulcer disease and inflammatory bowel disease. During his illustrious medical career, Fedorak has published more than 400 peer-reviewed manuscripts and secured two patents related to colonic-specific drug delivery and metabolomics. In addition to being a practising physician, Fedorak wears many hats at the U of A: he is a professor of medicine in the division of gastroenterology, directs both the Centre of Excellence for Gastrointestinal Inflammation and Immunity Research and the Northern Alberta Clinical Trials and Research Centre, and is an associate vice-president (research). Recently, Fedorak and his research team discovered and developed a new, non-invasive colon cancer screening test based on the presence of metabolomic markers in urine.

    Cyril Frank, ’70 BSc, ’73 Dip(Ed), is an orthopedic surgeon and pioneer in grafting and repairing ligaments. He has been a major contributor to medicine as a teacher, researcher and administrator. Frank was the scientific director of the Institute of Musculoskeletal Health and Arthritis at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and chaired an international panel for the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences that developed a framework for capturing the impacts of health research. As the McCaig Professor of Joint Injury and Arthritis Research at the University of Calgary, he helped establish an Alberta Osteoarthritis Research Team, making innovations in care and prevention, and improving access to quality care. In April, Frank took on a new challenge as the CEO of Alberta Innovates – Health Solutions, which has a mandate to advance health research and innovation.

    Selwyn Jacob, ’70 BEd, is an award-winning filmmaker with a commitment to telling important narratives with a social impact. Based in Vancouver, he has produced close to 50 films since joining the National Film Board in 1997. Jacob, who was born in Trinidad, came to Canada in 1968 with the dream of becoming a filmmaker. It was a dream that wouldn’t die: he became a teacher and eventually a school principal but chose to leave the security of that career to educate a wider audience through film. Many of his films have won awards, including the production Mighty Jerome, about Canadian Olympian Harry Jerome. This collaborative project earned four Leo Awards— celebrating film and television in British Columbia — and an Emmy Award in 2012.

    Barbara Laderoute, ’83 BEd, ’94 MEd, ’05 PhD, is a difference maker. As an international expert on indigenous language literacy, she has raised the profile of the Cree language. As an educator, she is making a difference in the lives of children. A Cree Métis from Alberta’s Gift Lake Métis Settlement, Laderoute followed her interest in Aboriginal education to the U of A, where she won numerous awards, including a national research award from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and the U of A’s Andrew Stewart Memorial Prize. Laderoute could have continued in academia but chose instead to return to her community, where she is principal of Gift Lake School. Under her leadership, the school has earned recognition as one of Canada’s “Top Ten Schools for Aboriginals.”

    Alexander D. Pringle, ’68 BA, is one of Canada’s most well-respected criminal defence lawyers, esteemed for his quiet and firm commitment to fundamental values. Pringle has practised as a criminal defence lawyer since 1973 and is the senior partner with Pringle Chivers Sparks in Edmonton. In addition to conducting a busy legal practice, he has been a sessional lecturer for the U of A Faculty of Law since 1982. Named one of Canada’s top criminal defence lawyers by the National Post, he has appeared in all levels of court in Canada, as well as before several commissions of inquiry. A founding member of both the Criminal Trial Lawyers Association of Alberta and the Environmental Law Centre of Edmonton, he also gives his time to numerous community organizations.

    James Wheatley, ’68 BEd, ’71 LLB, has made an extraordinary contribution to sport and community activities in Edmonton. Following a diverse practice of law, he was appointed in 2003 to the Provincial Court of Alberta. After serving from 2008 to 2013 as assistant chief judge in the criminal division, he has now returned to sitting as a trial judge. He was the driving force behind successful Edmonton bids to host the 1994 Canadian Figure Skating Championships and 1996 World Figure Skating Championships, as well as four World Cup Swimming Championships. He was inducted into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame in 2000 as a Multi-Sport Builder. Other community activities include the National Entrepreneur Development Institute, Victoria School Foundation for the Arts, City of Edmonton Salute to Excellence Awards and Players De Novo.

    Rudy Wiebe, ’56 BA, ’60 MA, ’09 DLitt(Honorary) is one of Canada’s most influential writers. His work is characterized by an unflinching depiction of the struggles and experiences of people who don’t typically have a voice in literature. It has earned him widespread recognition, including two Governor General’s Awards for Fiction — in 1973 for The Temptations of Big Bear and in 1994 for A Discovery of Strangers. A professor emeritus at the U of A, Wiebe has also won the Royal Society of Canada’s Lorne Pierce Medal and the Lieutenant-Governor of Alberta Distinguished Artist Award. In addition to his many novels, Wiebe has published short story collections, non-fiction, plays and children’s books. A passionate advocate for other writers, he was a founder of the Alberta Foundation for Literary Arts and the founding chair of the Writers Guild of Alberta.

    Phyllis Yaffe, ’72 BLS, is a visionary and trailblazer whose appetite for learning has made her one of the most powerful women in Canadian media. In 1973, she became interested in publishing and co-founded a magazine for librarians. Later, as executive director of the Association of Canadian Publishers, she played an integral role in securing federal government support for Canadian publishing. Moving to television, she joined Alliance Communications and was instrumental in winning specialty channel status from the CRTC — thereby introducing History Television and Showcase Television to Canadian viewers. As president and CEO of Alliance Atlantis, she achieved continued success with its television distribution business and company productions. Now board chair for Cineplex Entertainment, Yaffe also chairs the board of governors of Ryerson University.


    Celebrates recent outstanding accomplishments of graduates

    Brian Fryer, ’83 BPE, was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame and Museum in 2013. One of the all-time great football players to wear a Golden Bear uniform, he was the first player in CIAU (now CIS) history to have more than 1,000 yards in a season. In 1975, he won the Hec Creighton trophy, awarded to Canada’s best university football player, and was a three-time Canada West All-Star and two-time All-Canadian player. Fryer was the first Canadian university player to be drafted by an NFL team and later became part of the Eskimo dynasty that won five straight CFL championships. He has been inducted into the U of A Sports Wall of Fame and the Edmonton Sports Hall of Fame. Since 1985, he has served as executive director of Football Alberta.

    Kenda Gee, ’82 BA, is an Edmonton-based filmmaker and graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School. His documentary Lost Years: A People’s Struggle for Justice has received international media attention and critical acclaim, including the award for best feature documentary at the Asians on Film festival in Los Angeles. Centred on Gee’s own family history, Lost Years explores the last 150 years of the Chinese diaspora in Canada, the United States, New Zealand and Australia. It premiéred in 2011 at the Guangzhou International Documentary Film Festival, where it was named best documentary in the history and culture category, and has appeared on CBC and CTV Two Alberta as a two-part television miniseries. 

    Matthew Gaudet, ’12 BSc, a master’s student at the U of A, is the recent winner of two significant awards in computing science. He is part of a collaborative research project with IBM, evaluating the new hardware support for transactional memory that had been implemented in the IBM computer that was the fastest in the world in 2012. The paper he prepared based on this work was selected as the best paper at the 21st International Conference on Parallel Architectures and Compilation Techniques. He also received the gold medal at the associated student research competition. While an undergraduate, Gaudet had a very successful industrial internship with the IBM Toronto Software Laboratory, and some of the code he implemented is now part of the commercial compilers that IBM distributes worldwide.


    Recognizes the outstanding achievements of U of A alumni early in their careers

    Abraam Isaac, ’09 BMedSc, ’10 MD, the chief resident for internal medicine at the U of A, is known for his ability to tackle complex medical problems and for his passion for world development. A co-founder of the Kenya Ceramic Project, which developed and manufactured ceramic water filters and high-efficiency stoves, Isaac continues his commitment to working with the world’s disadvantaged through his involvement with Innovative Canadians for Change (ICChange). He co-directs this group, which brings together experts and students from across Canada to improve the quality of life for vulnerable populations. He is also involved in related projects in Burma, where he helps implement vocational training programs in high-efficiency stove design, and in Ethiopia, where the goal is to improve access to education for young girls.

    Samuel Jenkins, ’05 BCom, is part of the wave of young professionals leading the charge in making Edmonton a hub for technology entrepreneurs. The co-founder and CEO of WellNext, an IT startup that encourages active, healthy choices in life through the workplace, Jenkins was also a founder of Startup Edmonton, a vehicle for nurturing new ideas and sharing entrepreneurial lessons. In keeping with his commitment to the arts and his community, he is an organizer with TEDxEdmonton and with artsScene Edmonton and serves as president of Edmonton’s Fringe Theatre Adventures. Since becoming involved as a volunteer in 2009, he has helped lead the Edmonton Fringe to a 40 per cent increase in ticket sales. He also shares his expertise as a director of the alumni association of the Alberta School of Business.

    Andrew Kushnir, ’02 BFA, is a sought-after actor and playwright who has emerged as one of Canada’s leading practitioners of verbatim theatre — plays created from the transcripts of original interviews. As the creative director of Project: Humanity, a Toronto-based group committed to raising awareness of social issues through the arts, Kushnir (who was known as Andrew Wasyleczko in his U of A days) created the award-winning play The Middle Place. Crafted word for word from interviews at a youth shelter, it went on to a national tour. As current playwright–in-residence at Tarragon Theatre in Toronto, Kushnir is working on a multilingual epic about Ukraine’s struggling democracy. Other works in progress include a look at the intersection of homophobia and racism in Canadian society and a piece about at-risk high school youth and the drama teachers working to enrich their lives.

    Shawna Pandya, ’06 BSc(Hons), ’12 MD, a neurosurgical resident at the University of Alberta Hospital, is combining her interests in neurosurgery, aerospace research and crisis management technology to make a difference in the world. Through her work and studies — including research on a robot capable of performing neurosurgery — Pandya has established a niche in the field of space technology spinoffs for medical benefit. While a student at NASA-backed Singularity University, she co-created an emergency response software, CiviGuard, that leverages the prevalence of smartphones for disaster response. The company formed to market the software was named one of Entrepreneur magazine’s “100 Brilliant Companies.” In 2012, Pandya was one of five medical students chosen by the Canadian Space Agency for a four-week program at NASA’s space centre in Houston.

    Kuen Tang, ’06 BEd, is fearless in her approach to life and inspirational in her unwavering determination to achieve her goals. Tang, who became a quadriplegic after a 2001 car accident, was the first female quadriplegic to graduate from the U of A with an elementary education specialization. Her interest in graphic design led her to become the first quadriplegic to letter comic books for DC Comics and she later created her own comic strip. Tang’s long list of accomplishments includes creating the world’s first video resource for women with spinal cord injury; serving on the Alberta Premier’s Council on the Status of Persons with Disabilities; creating a program enabling people with higher-mobility disabilities to go skiing; and climbing a 2,500-metre mountain.

    Tom Yonge, ’04 BEd, ’04 BPE, is inspiring a new generation of volunteers and making a big difference in the lives of his students. When Yonge joined the staff of Edmonton’s Strathcona High School, the school leadership program involved only 36 students. By creating engaging and meaningful experiences, he has expanded enrolment almost tenfold, and the program is so popular some students opt to take sessions on weekends. At the heart of Yonge’s leadership model is service work. With his involvement, Strathcona’s leadership program has raised more than $265,000 for charitable organizations, while his students have learned important life lessons and the emotional reward of giving back. For his positive impact on his students and his community, he was recently named by Avenue magazine as one of Edmonton’s “Top 40 Under 40.”


    Recognizes the contributions of alumni as athletes and builders of U of A sport

    Sid Cranston, ’89 BEd, and Dennis Cranston, ’86 BA, ’88 BCom, were high-scoring and high-achieving brothers who played as centres with the Golden Bears hockey team in the 1980s. Together, they set numerous Golden Bears and Canada West scoring records and won the CIAU (now CIS)national hockey championship in 1986, with Dennis earning tournament MVP honours. Dennis, team captain for two years, graduated as all-time lead scorer for the Golden Bears. Sid’s best season was 1988, when he was selected as most outstanding player in the CIAU after being top scorer and establishing single-season Canada West and Golden Bears records for scoring. Sid finished his career as the third all-time lead scorer for the Golden Bears.

    Don Horwood, ’79 MA, put basketball on the map in Edmonton while winning three CIAU championships and three CIAU coach-of-the-year honours. As head coach of Golden Bears basketball from 1983 to 2009, he led his Bears to seven Canada West championships and nearly 600 wins. Horwood knew how to get the best out of his players, particularly at playoff time. A tireless promoter of the game, he brought a colourful personality and passion to the floor. He was honoured as Basketball Alberta provincial coach of the year in 1994 and 1995, and received the City of Edmonton Salute to Excellence Award in 2008.

    Mirka Lindberg (Pribylova), ’03 BPE, won four CIAU women’s volleyball championships as a setter for the Pandas and was central to the program winning six straight championships, a CIAU record, in the 1990s. She was a first-team All-Canadian for all four years she competed. She won CIAU player-of-the-year honours twice, and the 1995 CIAU National Tournament MVP award. Lindberg went on to play professionally in Switzerland and Germany and subsequently competed for Team Canada. She competed at the World Volleyball Championships in 2002. She went on to be assistant coach with the Calgary Dinos, winning the CIS Championship in 2004.

    Michael Payette, ’85 BEd, ’90 MA, thrived on the Golden Bears wrestling team in the 1980s, winning five Canada West championships and three national university championships. The top Golden Bears wrestler for four straight years, he was named the U of A’s most outstanding male athlete in 1985. After his career as a competitor, Payette was head coach of the Golden Bears wrestling team for four years, winning Canada West coach-of-the-year honours in 1989. He later held positions with the Canadian Amateur Wrestling Association and oversaw national team selection and training, as well as initiating Canada’s women’s wrestling program. 
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    Celebrates student spirit and the many contributions students make to the betterment of the university community and beyond

    Kirsten Lindquist, ’08 BCom, ’13 BA(NativeStuHons), played an influential role as a Métis student in the Faculty of Native Studies. As president of the Native Studies Students Association, she took the lead on initiatives designed to increase out-of-class interactions among fellow students by creating an open community environment through events and shared spaces. She transformed the faculty’s space in Pembina Hall and was the force behind creating a garden space for native plants outside Pembina. Lindquist also helped at faculty recruitment events and served as student representative on both the Faculty of Native Studies Council and the faculty’s academic affairs committee.

    Amit R.L. Persad is a third-year science student and the founder and leader of Cardiovascular Health Initiatives. The group, which seeks to improve cardiovascular health on campus, works with food vendors to make available better nutritional information to students. Persad is also a co-chair of the Smoke Free Campus Initiative and a member of the Heart and Stroke Foundation Student Association. He is a council member for the Edmonton Regional Science Fair, working to increase participation and help students receive mentorship from the post-secondary community.


    Recognizes alumni who have demonstrated commitment, dedication and service to the University of Alberta

    Robert Lampard, ’64 MD, ’66 BSc, ’67 MSc, was named a top 100 Alberta Physician of the Century after serving as director of medical health at the Michener Centre for more than 27 years. In addition to caring for adults with developmental disabilities, he has worked resolutely to uncover the accomplishments of Alberta’s medical pioneers, resulting in a website and numerous publications, including Alberta’s Medical History: Young and Lusty and Full of Life and Deans, Dreams and a President, which commemorates 100 years of the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry. In 2006, he was named adjunct professor of medical history by the faculty. He also served on the faculty’s alumni association for nine years and organized the Golden Bowl football game in 1963, a precursor to the Vanier Cup.

    Penny Lightfoot, ’77 Dip(RM), ’78 BSc(PT), ’83 MHSA, has made an extraordinary gift of time and energy to the U of A through her involvement in the School of Public Health. An executive director with Alberta Health Services, Lightfoot has shared her expertise generously with her alma mater and has been involved with the School of Public Health for more than a decade. As the external representative to the school’s faculty evaluation committee since its inception in 2007, she has never missed a meeting. She is also a member of both the school’s external advisory council and its professional degree committee. In addition, she is a regular guest lecturer and chairs the School of Public Health Alumni Chapter.

    Reginald Moncrieff, ’70 BA, has been, for more than three decades, the glue that holds together the U of A alumni family in New York. Moncrieff, who began a private dental practice in the Upper West Side of Manhattan in 1980, has enthusiastically given his time to the activities of the U of A Alumni Association. He spearheaded the formation of the alumni chapter in New York and has annually organized many innovative events that take advantage of the city’s rich cultural environment. He was the creative force behind a juried U of A alumni art show hosted at the former Alberta House in New York in the 1990s and founded the alumni skating event now held each year in Central Park. In addition, he generously makes time to welcome alumni newcomers to his city.