This high honour recognizes individuals who do remarkable and exemplary things in the University’s fields of endeavour. Recipients may come from within academia and outside it in Québec, across Canada, or elsewhere in the world.
Founder and president of companies in the forest industry
Honorary Doctorate in Wood and Forest Sciences
In 1985, Guy Deschênes proposed a new cooperative-based business model to save the softwood lumber mill in Sacré-Coeur on Québec’s Côte-Nord region. And so the Boisaco sawmill was born. The successful sawmill complex—one of the biggest in Québec—is owned by the community and by the workers. And Mr. Deschênes has come to be regarded as one of the most innovative leaders in the Canadian forestry industry.
Today the sawmill is joined by four other related businesses that are also based on the cooperative model. The Sacopan fibreboard plant, Ripco horse bedding plant, and Granulco pellet plant (25% of which is owned by the Innu First Nation of Essipit) are all dedicated to converting sawmill residue into usable products. As for the Bersaco division, it processes hardwood, which also enables Boisaco to source wood from mixed forests. This industrial complex, created entirely at Guy Deschênes’s imitative, is an admirable example of environmental and economic sustainability, partnership with First Nations, cooperative economics, and regional development that serves the local community.
Mr. Deschênes’s deep commitment to the industry, notably as president of the Quebec Lumber Manufacturers Association and cofounder of the Quebec Forest Industry Council (CIFQ), has made him a go-to authority on forest issues for government agencies and organizations. He also stands out for his resolve to reconcile wealth distribution with social and economic growth. To this end, he has co-founded organizations such as Comité local de développement de la Haute-Côte-Nord and Société d’aide au développement des collectivités.
His entrepreneurial spirit and sense of engagement have been recognized with various honours and awards, including the Henri-Gustave-Joly-de-Lotbinière award from Ordre des ingénieurs forestiers du Québec and the 125th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada Medal.
Biologist, comedian, author, and television and radio host
Honorary University Doctorate
Boucar Diouf arrived in Québec en 1991 with a master’s degree in biology from the University of Dakar to do a doctorate in oceanography at Université du Québec à Rimouski (UQAR). After earning his PhD in 1999, he spent the next seven years at UQAR teaching subjects as varied as human physiology, adaptive biology, and structural biochemistry. To help his students understand the course material, he created a series of comic videos he dubbed Boucardises. So impressed were they by his talent that they signed him up to audition for the Juste pour rire comedy festival.
And so began a remarkable career in comedy and communication for the scientist. Boucar Diouf has toured three different one-man shows across Québec and the rest of the francophone world since 2010, all of them nominated for Olivier awards, Québec’s top comedy. His fourth show—a wise and witty homage to his beloved St. Lawrence River—is a perfect example of his approach, with its artful blend of humour, popular science, and social commentary. In addition to comedy, Boucar Diouf has hosted a number of popular TV shows and been a regular commentator for public affairs shows and for the daily La Presse. He has also written 10 books and hosted several radio shows, including La nature selon Boucar on Radio-Canada.
As a fervent lover of the French language, he uses its poetic power to talk about science and spread a message in favour of environmental protection, tolerance, and social harmony. Turning a critical but caring eye on society and its foibles, he offers timely insights into social issues and provides an inspiring model of inclusion and commitment to the common good. His humanist values and scientific rigour have been recognized with a number of honours and distinctions, including the Charles Biddle Award highlighting contributions from Quebecers of different cultural backgrounds, and the Pierre Dansereau Award from Association des biologistes du Québec.
Cofounder and copresident of Germain Hôtels
Honorary Doctorate in Business Administration
Christiane Germain grew up in a family that was active in the restaurant and real estate business and decided early on to follow in their hospitality industry footsteps. In 1973, she enrolled in hotel management at Humber in College in Toronto. Fifteen years later, in 1988, she and her brother, Jean-Yves Germain, founded Hôtel Germain-des-prés in Sainte-Foy. This first hotel became the launch point for the Germain Hotels network, which now numbers 18 locations and over 1,500 employees in 7 Canadian provinces.
Recognized as one of Canada’s 50 best-managed companies, Germain Hotels runs world-class properties renowned for their exceptional service and unique style. The company is committed to local procurement and to providing a stimulating work environment for its employees.
An outstanding businesswoman, Christiane Germain has extensive boardroom experience, having served such organizations as Le Massif de Petite-Rivière-Saint-François, Fondation de l’Institut de tourisme et d’hôtellerie du Québec, and Loblaw. She currently chairs the board of Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec and in 2021 joined the board of Entrepreneuriat Laval. She is highly sought after as a speaker, and an inspiring example of social engagement for new and experienced entrepreneurs alike. In 2017, 2018, and 2021, she shared advice and support with up-and-coming entrepreneurs as a “dragon” on Dans l’œil du dragon (the French version of Dragon’s Den).
A model of female leadership, Christiane Germain has paved the way for women, both in business and in corporate boardrooms. Named one of the 100 most influential women in Canada for 4 years running by the Women’s Executive Network, she has received numerous honours and distinctions, including the titles of Knight of the Ordre national du Québec in 2009, and Officer of the Order of Canada in 2015. In 2019, she and her brother were named Grands Québécois in the economic sector by the Québec Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and in 2020, they were inducted into Cercle des Grands entrepreneurs du Québec, a joint initiative of Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, Desjardins Group, and the National Bank.
Emeritus professor at the University of Paris and visiting professor at the University of Verona
Honorary Doctorate in Linguistics
John Humbley began his academic career studying phonetics in Australia, but shifted his focus to lexicography with the encouragement of Bernard Quemada, one of the preeminent lexicographers of his time, after they met in 1968. The multilingual Australian went on to become one of the first linguists specializing in the empirical study of linguistic borrowing, particularly anglicisms, in various Indo-European languages (Scandinavian, Germanic, Romance). His numerous contributions in the fields of terminology and neology make him one of the most recognized linguists in the French-speaking world, and internationally as well.
Professor Humbley, who holds a doctorate from Université Paris 13, has spent his entire career developing a framework for the study of lexicographical renewal. With over 400 scholarly publications to his name, including some 15 books, he has forged an exemplary academic career. Professor Humbley led Centre de terminologie et de néologie from 1989 to 1993 and cofounded the first specialized neology journal (Neologica). He has also been a very active contributor to the Global Anglicism Database, which documents cultural and linguistic anglicization, and has taken part in various programs to identify and analyze neologisms, including Néoveille, a multilingual monitoring platform.
As a leading producer of knowledge used to guide language management in many fast-growing fields, Professor Humbley has contributed in ways that extend well beyond the walls of academia. His work has resulted in tangible contributions to the creation and standardization of technical vocabularies used by many companies and institutions, particularly in the realm of e-commerce and computer terminology that is now used in a multitude of languages.
His reputation is such that his appointment as emeritus professor in 2015 gave rise to a prestigious international symposium in tribute to his career and contributions. It was an honour well deserved, for this officer of the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres has been the recipient of a number of prestigious national and international awards, including the Émile-Benveniste (Académie des inscriptions et belles-lettres) and Eugen-Wüster awards.
Cofounder and senior architect at McFarland Marceau Architects
Honorary Doctorate in Architecture
Marie-Odile Marceau graduated from Université Laval in 1981 with a bachelor's degree in architecture. She first worked as a construction supervisor in northern Québec before getting a job with the civil service in the Northwest Territories, where she was quick to specialize in Arctic architecture. She was subsequently recruited by the Department of Indian Affairs to work on the school development program in Indigenous communities in British Columbia. Her practice was characterized by a collaborative approach and deep respect for both Indigenous culture and the environment, core values that have left an indelible imprint on her professional career.
After going into private practice, she continued to promote an architecture in keeping with social and ecological principles. McFarland Marceau Architects (MMA), the firm she cofounded in Vancouver, is well known for its commitment to carbon neutrality and sustainable development. MMA is also renowned for championing the use of wood in numerous innovative and elegant ways. So much so that Marie-Odile Marceau was named Wood Champion, by the Canadian Wood Council in 2015.
MMA boasts a remarkable portfolio that is wide ranging in budget and scope, with projects that are well integrated into their natural surroundings and cultural environment, especially in Indigenous communities. Ms. Marceau has also created various design tools, such as interactive design sessions, to foster user and community participation from the very first phases of a project's development. This collaborative approach yields buildings that are not only highly functional, but also visibly express a culture and sense of place and belonging.
Marie-Odile Marceau's high ideals have earned her a well-deserved place among Canada's leading architects. The way in which her buildings respond to human, cultural and environmental needs has made her an authority in her field, as borne out by the numerous awards MMA projects have received.
Musical Director, Orchestre métropolitain de Montréal, Philadelphia Orchestra, and Metropolitan Opera of New York
Honorary Doctorate in Music
Yannick Nézet-Séguin has enjoyed a meteoric rise to international prominence. After graduating from Montréal’s Conservatoire de musique et d’art dramatique in 1997, he was appointed music director of Orchestre Métropolitain de Montréal in 2000, taking the ensemble to new heights of excellence. From 2008 to 2018, he also served as principal conductor of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra. Today, he enjoys a stellar international reputation and leads two of the most prestigious musical organizations in the United States, the Philadelphia Orchestra (since 2012) and the Metropolitan Opera of New York (since 2018). No other Canadian classical musician has ever achieved such worldwide renown.
With nearly 100 concerts a year, Yannick Nézet-Séguin is one of the most active conductors on the international stage. To date, he has led nearly 80 different orchestras worldwide, including such highly regarded ensembles as the Berlin Philharmonic, the Vienna Philharmonic and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. He has also conducted numerous operas at venues as prestigious as the Royal Opera House (Covent Garden) in London, the Vienna State Opera, and La Scala in Milan. Maestro Nézet-Séguin has made over 70 recordings showcasing an extensive symphonic and operatic repertoire ranging from Mozart and Beethoven to Berlioz, Tchaikovsky, Ravel, and Prokofiev. Music lovers appreciate his incredible versatility and his ability to bring out the best in each style or work.
Maestro Nézet-Séguin’s performances consistently earn the praise of the most eminent and discerning critics. He was named 2015 artist of the year by the renowned classical music magazine Musical America, the first Quebecer to be so recognized. In addition to multiple awards for his recordings, he has also been honoured with numerous other distinctions over the course of his career, including a prestigious award from the Royal Philharmonic Society in London. He is an Officer of Ordre national du Québec and Companion of the Order of Canada.
Photo: Chris Lee
James Madison Professor of political economy at Princeton University
Honorary Doctorate in Economics
In the late 1980s, a Beninese man submitted an unusual application for admission to the master’s program in economics at Université Laval. Despite his lack of a university degree, he was accepted on account of his resilience and determination. His academic rigour was such that several years later, he became one of the first people of African origin to be appointed to the faculty of a U.S. Ivy League university.
Léonard Wantchékon was studying mathematics at university in 1985 when he was imprisoned and tortured for a year and a half for his opposition to Beninese dictator Mathieu Kérékou. After coming to Canada as a political refugee, he earned a master’s degree from Université Laval in 1990, a second master’s from the University of British Columbia in 1992, and a PhD under the supervision of Nobel laureate Roger Myerson at Northwestern University in Illinois, where he specialized in political economy. He was hired as a professor of political science at Yale University in 1995, then at New York University in 2001, and lastly at Princeton University in 2011.
Professor Wantchékon’s research deals with political economy, economy history, and economic development. His 150-odd scholarly publications, which draw upon mathematical and statistical models to help explain political, social, and economic phenomena such as clientelism and slavery, are widely cited and have had a profound influence in these fields. He is recognized as a leading researcher by his peers for his pioneering work in the conduct of randomized controlled trials in the fields of economics and politics and is a member of the prestigious Econometric Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Proud of his origins and a tireless advocate for research and higher education in Africa, Professor Wantchékon founded the Institute for Empirical Research in Political Economy in 2004. The Institute’s success led to the founding of the African School of Economics, which offers top quality master's programs.