Aung San Suu Kyi receives honorary degree
It took seven long years, but honorary degree materials from Memorial University have finally been bestowed upon democracy advocate and Burmese activist Aung San Suu Kyi.
The materials, which included the doctor of letters degree parchment, doctoral hood, the celebratory oration and video and photos of the ceremony were presented on behalf of Memorial University by Ron Hoffmann, Canada's ambassador to Thailand and newly appointed ambassador to Myanmar.
In 2004 Memorial University bestowed an honorary doctor of letters degree on Aung San Suu Kyi, renowned internationally for her decades-long struggle for democratic reform in Burma.
The problem facing the university at that time was that Aung San Suu Kyi was under house arrest in Burma and, for the most part, incommunicado. So the degree was presented in absentia and a video was shown at the convocation ceremony that celebrated Aung San Suu Kyi's struggles for democratic reform in her country, in the hope that at some time in the future she would be free to accept the honour.
The package of materials delivered by the ambassador also included a letter to Aung San Suu Kyi from Memorial's president, Dr. Gary Kachanoski, which explained the circumstances behind the awarding of the degree in 2004.
"The process to recognize you and your work began more than 10 years ago when Memorial University first received your name in nomination for the honorary degree," wrote Dr. Kachanoski. "It is a testament to the impact of your dignity and inspirational leadership that it was instantly felt here in Newfoundland and Labrador – on the other side of the world – that this would be a fitting tribute and a strong show of solidarity with your struggle for democratic reform."
Fast forward to 2011 and with the help of Canadian consular staff in the region, the task of bestowing the honorary degree has been completed.
"I finally was able to officially present Aung San Suu Kyi the Memorial University honorary doctorate," wrote Ambassador Hoffman in an e-mail to the university. "I followed with one more recently bestowed by Carleton (University, in Ottawa), but I started with yours as the first to be granted. (She) was delighted and honoured by the recognition.
"Aung San Suu Kyi was genuinely very grateful to Memorial."