2022 Recipients


j-waters-200x300.jpgMargaret Jean Waters, DMin, MTS, MSW, BA

Order of St. Stephen’s College

Dr. Margaret Jean Waters is recognized with the Order of St. Stephen’s College for the many ways she has advanced professional counselling communities, furthered women’s studies in therapy and spirituality, and for her long history with—and many positive contributions to—St. Stephen’s College and its learning community.  Early in her career, Dr. Waters worked professionally as both a Registered Social Worker in Manitoba and Alberta and as a Certified Specialist in Pastoral Counselling within what was then known as the Canadian Association for Pastoral Practice and Education (now, the Canadian Association for Spiritual Care/Association canadienne de soins spirituels). In these fields, she was recognized as a leader in working with issues of sexuality, professional ethics, healing from abusive situations, and the promotion of mental health and spiritually integrated well-being.  After coming to St. Stephen’s College as a student, Jean completed her Master of Theological Studies (MTS ‘87) and eventually her Doctor of Ministry (DMin ‘96).  Throughout her thirty-five year history with St. Stephen’s, Dr. Waters taught courses in Feminist Theology, Women’s Spirituality, Women and Religion, Pastoral Counselling, and Counselling Skills at both St. Stephen’s College and the University of Alberta.  Dr. Waters always imbued a quiet strength to her teaching and mentoring of students; her presence and way of being said: “women matter, I matter, you matter … now let’s matter!”  Her compassion and constancy accompanied many students from places of self-alienation to places of self-respect and empowerment.  From the early 2000s onward, Dr. Waters served St. Stephen’s in various capacities as a faculty member, first as Co-Coordinator of the Master of Arts in Pastoral Psychology and Counselling program (known today as the Master of Psychotherapy and Spirituality), and later as the interim coordinator of both the Doctor of Ministry and the Master of Theological Studies programs.  Dr. Waters helped nurture international partnerships between the College’s Pastoral Counselling program and the Institute for Leadership and Education in Jamaica and Grand Cayman.  Her various areas of expertise also attracted international doctoral students interested in working in Pastoral Counselling; one such student went on to integrate an African-centered clinical pastoral therapy approach in his work with survivors of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide.  Through all of this, Dr. Waters embodied the vision of St. Stephen’s College simply by being a spiritual seeker and compassionate leader who modeled constancy, availability, advocacy, and hope. 

jim-gurnett-200x300.jpgJames Gurnett, BA

Doctor of Sacred Letters (honoris causa)

James Gurnett is honoured for his lifetime of national and international activities, advocacy, and devotion toward social justice, protecting human rights, and to improving the human condition.  Gurnett began his career working for 15 years as a teacher, program facilitator, and principal in Calgary, Kabul (Afghanistan), and Alberta’s Peace River country.  In 1985, when the sitting MLA and Leader of the Opposition, Grant Notley, died in a plane crash, Gurnett was elected via by-election to the Alberta Legislature as a member of the NDP for the constituency of Spirit River-Fairview.  As an elected official, Gurnett found many opportunities to put into action his strong drive for justice and service to both his constituents and in a wider sense, to all the people of Alberta.  After his term as an MLA ended, Gurnett kept active in electoral politics, notably serving as Director of Communications and Outreach for the Official Opposition of the Alberta Legislature and as the Chief of Staff for the NDP caucus.  Outside the political sphere, Gurnett has taken leadership in innumerable community betterment activities. As the founding Executive Director of the Hope Foundation (affiliated with the Faculty of Education at the University of Alberta), Gurnett worked to provide research and services related to the intentional use of hope as a means of enjoying an enhanced quality of life.  Throughout his life, Gurnett has been a tireless advocate for the homeless and in working to ensure all people have an opportunity to access good housing.  He has helped organize community responses to homelessness by serving as the spokesperson for the Edmonton Coalition on Housing and Homelessness, and he also helped organize (and writes for) Alberta Street News, which is a publication sold by homeless individuals in downtown Edmonton to give them the dignity of work and income.  On a more concrete level, Gurnett has been instrumental in ensuring that homeless individuals who have passed away are appropriately memorialized and given the benefit of a dignified funeral and burial.  Gurnett’s passion for human rights found a natural outlet as the Executive Director for the Edmonton Mennonite Center for Newcomers (EMCN), where he gave leadership to the provision of services to thousands of refugees and immigrants—services such as language training, employment counselling, training and job placement, community development for refugee groups seeking to get established in a new country, and helping newcomers achieve full participation in their new, adoptive homeland.  Complementing his work with the EMCN, Gurnett was an active member of the Alberta Association of Immigrant Serving Agencies, he chaired the Canadian Immigrant Settlement Sector Alliance, he strongly supported the Center for Victims of Trauma and Torture (which works with refugees who have suffered terrible human rights violations in their countries of origin), and he organized, obtained financing for, and administered Trinity Manor (a housing complex for refugees).  Gurnett is a published author, including a children’s book titled The Meeting Place (Alberta Association for Immigrant Servicing Agencies, 2013) and a handbook for community work to end gender discrimination, titled Together, Creating a Better World (International Association of Citizens for a Civil Society, 2015).  Extending from all of this, Gurnett has also worked to promote peace as a member of the Mahatma Gandhi Foundation for World Peace, as a Director of Project Ploughshares Edmonton, and as an associate of the John Humphrey Center for Peace and Human Rights.  Gurnett is the recipient of a number of recognitions, including the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal (2004), the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal (2013), the Alberta Centennial Medal (2005), the Salvos Prelorentzos Peace Award (2007), the University of Alberta Distinguished Alumni Award (2008), the Homeward Trust Edmonton Larry Shaben Award for Outstanding Leadership in the Housing Sector (2008), the Edmonton Interfaith Center for Education and Action Community Service Award (2009), and he was identified as one of Alberta’s 50 Most Influential People (2007).  Gurnett’s leadership and compassion in all these areas demonstrates his deep commitment to the flourishing of his fellow human beings and to the betterment of the human family.