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Vol 38  No 5
November 3, 2005


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Oration honouring Scott Hand

The Green Man is a strange creature whose leaf-wreathed head is to be found in the arch springings of English medieval churches as well as in woodwork and painting from the same time. He is believed to represent a kind of earth-figure, to represent the vitality and well-being of the wood, of nature or, if we are to reduce it our own vernacular, an environmentalist. He has a most curious existence for he is known only from his representations. There are, apparently, no contemporary written accounts of him. Scott Hand is like him for, as Inco’s green man he seems only to exist in representations but with this difference: Scott Hand exists less as person than in the manifestations of his intent, in his works.

He once was the CEO of an environmental organization, of the World Wildlife Fund but did not stay long. Indeed, for recycling of executives, it was something of a record ­ he was only there for a day. It should be made clear that he was not fired, nor did he quit on a matter of principle. He had actually traded places with Monte Hummel, the real head of the WWF, in order that both might look at their own world from the other side of the mirror. But such a post was not so entirely far-fetched as one might expect for Inco, under Scott Hand, has done much to redeem itself in the eyes of environmentalists by achieving a very significant 90 per cent reduction in emissions at the Sudbury operations and promising a further 75 per cent reduction in the next decade. His credibility is such that he was asked to speak at a Pollution Probe conference two years ago, an invitation that at one time would have been regarded as incongruous as asking Andy Wells to speak to the National Council on Etiquette.

But Scott Hand is not without his problems. The development of Inco’s Goro deposit saw some strange games being played by the French government ­ they withdrew a request for UNESCO World Heritage designation of the New Caledonia barrier reef in what looked like an attempt to limit environmental restrictions on the project. Just a year ago Mr. Hand recognized that he had been too hasty in pursuing this project and seemed to have learned a few lessons which were put into practice with Voisey’s Bay. But it has to be asked has the Green Man become his later manifestation: Jack-in-the-green, a figure from the May Day revels guised in green but who is, in reality, a chimney sweep, one of those small boys who climb the stacks to clear them of pollution?

That question hangs in the air for an answer drawn on the land. What can be said is what has been said, that Scott Hand is best seen in what he has done. He is present in the Impact and Benefits Agreements reached with the Innu and Inuit, and in the $15 million contribution to the new hospital in Happy Valley/Goose Bay. It is also seen in how he is regarded for his word and for his works ­ take heed of this high and rare praise from Peter Penashue: “Few earn our unreserved respect and trust. Mr. Scott Hand is one of those few.” To Memorial he gave $20 million to create the Inco Innovation Centre, the largest donation the university has ever received and equivalent to some recent record-making gifts to Canadian universities. For his model leadership of a major Canadian corporation, for his contribution to the development of the economy of Labrador and of Newfoundland, for his remarkable contribution to this university, Chancellor I present to you for the degree of doctor of laws (honoris causa), Scott Hand. Shane O’Dea Public orator

Shane O’Dea
Public orator

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