Former Conservative cabinet minister, John Baird, received an Honourary Doctorate of Sacred Letters from Huntington University during a convocation ceremony on March 23.
Baird was among a group of three honourees to receive special recognition on the evening, and was joined by Northern Life managing editor Mark Gentili, who was named the school's first ever Journalist in Residence.
As a Journalist in Residence, Gentili will serve in a mentorship role in the universities Communication Studies program.
Jennifer Amyotte, a career paramedic, was given the Leadership in Northern Education Award.
The award is in recognition of her work in leading the Transitions Care Program and the Health Promotion Community Paramedic Program – two commuinity paramedic pilot projects that are making a difference in the lives of older adults with complex or chronic medical conditions.
Baird was honoured for his many accomplishments and contributions for his time spent as a Member of Parliament. After serving as an MPP and cabinet minister in Premier Mike Harris' Tory government, he spent three terms as a federal MP, and most recently as the Minister of Foreign Affairs (2011 – 2015).
Today, Baird is a senior business advisor with Bennett Jones LLP, and sits on the advisory board of Barrick Gold Corp., the corporate boards of Canadian Pacific, FWD Group, and PineBridge Investments.
He also volunteers time with Community Living Ontario, and organization that supports individuals with developmental disabilities.
“I'm tremendously humbled to get a great honour from Huntington, it's a great school with a fantastic reputation,” said Baird.
“I was really excited to get a call from Rick Bartolucci,my former colleague, he was asking if I'd be willing to accept and I told him I'd be thrilled to be offered.”
Huntington University President and Vice-Chancellor Kevin McCormick spoke highly of the three being honoured on the evening, and their impact in the community.
“This is the first time we've done a journalist in residence, and we're the first in universities to really recognize the contributions of journalism and to have a resident inside,” said McCormick.
“We're very proud of this, it speaks to the university's value for the media and for free expression and gives our students an opportunity to have someone around to give opinions and advice and honour what we have as Canadians and that's freedom of press.”
Jennifer Amyotte has spent the better part of 25 years working as a front line paramedic in Greater Sudbury and she currently serves as Commander of Community Paramedicine and Professional Standards.
“I've got a fantastic team of paramedics and this has just been a vision to bring community paramedicine to Greater Sudbury,” said Amyotte. “We were very fortunate to receive funding from the Ministry of Health in 2014 and with that we now have two programs that I think have both shown success in our community.”
The three honourees were elected through a community nomination process and ultimately vetted and approved by the university's board of regents.