The Western Legacy Awards are prestigious annual honours recognizing a who’s who of illustrious Albertans. More than a quarter of the 100 Top Albertans honoured in 2012 have a connection to the University of Calgary.
The Western Legacy Awards, established in 2005, are bestowed on individuals and organizations that promote western values and aim to preserve western heritage, pride and integrity within their community. Recipients include those past and present who have shaped the province in philanthropy, economics, education, politics, the environment and the arts.
The recipients’ links to the university range from current working academics and researchers to those who have received honorary degrees for their contributions and accomplishments in the community.
“You have to be very proud of these people who have made the university and Alberta a better place,” said Paul Valentine, the Calgary Stampede’s Western Legacy Award committee chair and University of Calgary alumnus.
Typically the legacy awards are given to three or four people, but to commemorate the Stampede’s Centennial, 100 Albertans were selected in 2012. Their names, along with past recipients, will be added to a new legacy structure that will be completed for the 2013 Calgary Stampede.
One of this year’s recipients is Ann McCaig, a longtime university supporter who served on the board of governors from 1984 to 1994. She later served as the university’s eighth chancellor.
McCaig commented on how fitting it was to honour 100 people with Western Legacy Awards to commemorate the Calgary Stampede’s centennial.
“The Western Legacy Awards celebrate what the Stampede does so well - preserving western heritage,” McCaig said.
Another Western Legacy Award recipient is Dianne Wittner, a University of Calgary alumna who graduated with a biology degree in the early 1980s. The honour came as a surprise to the wildlife biologist and trauma expert, who founded the Alberta Institute for Wildlife Conservation.
“It was pretty humbling. Once I saw the names...seriously I don’t consider myself in that same league,” said Wittner.
Here is an alphabetical list of Western Legacy Award recipients who have a direct affiliation or several ties to the university. See a second story on the recipients who, over the years, have been given an honorary degree from the University of Calgary.
Catherine Barclay (1902-1985): A French teacher and visionary, Barclay brought hostelling from Europe to Canada. She established the Canadian Youth Hostels Association in Bragg Creek in 1933. In honour of her contributions to education, the University of Calgary offers a bursary to students who want to pursue studies in French at universities in Dijon or Tours, France.
Sheldon Chumir (1940-1992): In 2005, the Sheldon Chumir Memorial Award was established at the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Law. Chumir was a Rhodes scholar, tax lawyer and Liberal member of the Alberta Legislature and human rights advocate committed to the right to education, police accountability and freedom of information.
Robert (Bob) Church: Church, who had a 25-year career at the University of Calgary, is an international pioneer in molecular genetics and embryo transfer technology in cattle. Church was a founding member of the Faculty of Medicine, Associate Dean of Research from 1981 to 1988 and the first head of Medical Biochemistry. The university set up an endowed lectureship in biotechnology to honour Church.
Hugh Dempsey: The archivist, historian and author became the Glenbow Museum’s first archivist in 1956 and went on to become the museums’ curator/director until retiring in 1991. Author of many books and articles about aboriginals and Alberta history, Dempsey also taught native studies and Alberta history at the University of Calgary. He holds an honorary degree (1974) from the university.
Marmie (Margaret) Hess: The University of Calgary houses the Margaret P. Hess Collection, an invaluable Canadian resource which contains historical books, journals, pamphlets and maps on early exploration and travel in Canada to First Nations and Inuit art. Hess established the Arctic Institute of North America at the university. She holds an honorary degree (1981) from the university.
Brian Keating: Keating is a former adjunct assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Calgary who received an honorary degree from the university in 2011. Keating’s passion is educating the public about conservationism and the wonderful world of wildlife.
Frank King: Chair and CEO of the 1988 Calgary Olympic Winter Games Organizing Committee, King received an honorary degree in 1988 from the university. He was Executive in Residence at the Haskayne School of Business from 1988 to 1990, and received the Canadian Engineering Leader Award from the Schulich School of Engineering in 2010.
Peter Lougheed (1928-2012): One of Canada’s most popular politicians, Lougheed served as Alberta’s premier from 1971 to 1985. He received an honorary degree in 1986 from the university. While premier, he established the Alberta Heritage Foundation in Medical Research, thereby contributing to the quality of research at the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Medicine.
Preston Manning: Founder of the Reform Party of Canada and the Canadian Reform Conservative Alliance, Manning was official leader of the Opposition from 1997 to 2000. He was Distinguished Visitor in Canadian Public Policy at the University of Calgary and continues to write, speak and teach on topics, such as revitalizing democracy, and forging better relations between the scientific and political communities. He was given an honorary degree in 2002 from the university.
Ann McCaig: Chancellor of the University of Calgary from 1994 to 1998 and 10-year member of the Board of Governors, McCaig continues to work for a number of organizations. She is Chair of the Calgary Health Trust and the Alberta Adolescent Recovery Centre, and Honorary Chair of the Alberta Bone and Joint Institute. McCaig received an honorary degree in 2001 from the university.
Allan Markin: Widely known for his distinguished career in the oil industry, Markin has had a profound impact in the area of education and health care. His philanthropic contributions to the University of Calgary include the Markin Chair in Health and Society, the Institute for Public Health and the Markin-Flanagan Distinguished Writer in Residence Program. He was given an honorary degree in 1998 from the university.
Louise McKinney (1868-1931): This early women’s right activist was the first woman sworn into the Alberta Legislature in 1917. The University of Calgary offers Louise McKinney Scholarships for Master and PhD students in the areas of law, medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, chiropractic, optometry and veterinary medicine.
Frits Pannekoek: President of Athabasca University since 2005, Pannekoek is a proponent of “barrier free learning.” Prior to this role, Pannekoek was the director of information resources at the University of Calgary and responsible for its libraries, archives, press and museum.
Greg Powell: A pilot and emergency room doctor, Powell merged these two skills and established STARS, a world-class helicopter ambulance service in Alberta. He was Director and Division Chief of Foothills’ and University of Calgary’s emergency medicine programs in the 1980s.
Arthur Smith (1919-2008): Smith served as City of Calgary alderman, MLA in the Alberta Legislature and Member of Parliament. His contribution to the university included Chairman of the Centre for Innovation and Technology, the Centre for Military and Strategic Studies and the Van Horne Institute of International Transportation. He received an honorary degree in 1988 from the university.
Abdul Rahman: Rahman’s passion encompasses children’s general and mental health. Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Program Director of the Child and Adolescent Addictions and Mental Health Program, Rahman helped establish MOSAIC, a non-profit organization that provides opportunities for Muslim youth in Alberta to gain organizational leadership, training and experience through volunteering.
Mark Tewksbury: Tewksbury trained at the University of Calgary and went on to win Canada’s first Olympic gold medal at the Barcelona Games in 1992. He is an inductee of the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame, the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame and the International Swimming Hall of Fame. After Barcelona, he retired from swimming and has become a noted gay rights advocate. He was given an honorary degree in 2010 from the university.
Diane Wittner: Wildlife biologist and founder of the Alberta Institute for the Wildlife Conservation, Wittner has a biology degree from the University of Calgary. Wittner is a wildlife trauma expert and has worked as a wildlife rehabilitator since 1983.