During its spring convocation ceremonies to be held on May 18 and 19, 2023, Mount Saint Vincent University will recognize the achievements of several hundred students and bestow an honorary degree on the Honorable Dr. Wanda Thomas Bernard, PhD, CM, ONS.

Dr. Wanda Thomas Bernard, honorary degree recipient for the Spring 2023 Convocation ceremonyAn alumna of MSVU (BA ’75), as well as Dalhousie University and the University of Sheffield, the Honorable Dr. Wanda Thomas Bernard is an agent of transformative social change.

She is the first African Nova Scotian woman to be appointed to the Senate of Canada (appointed November 2016). She proudly holds her position in the Red Chamber representing the province of Nova Scotia and her hometown of East Preston while championing issues impacting African Canadians nationally in her work. She is the liaison of the Progressive Senate Group.

A highly regarded social worker, educator, researcher, and community activist, the Honorable Dr. Wanda Thomas Bernard has maintained a deep dedication to social justice and racial justice throughout her career for which she was awarded the Order of Canada in 2005 and the Order of Nova Scotia in 2014.

After practicing frontline social work in Nova Scotia and founding the Association of Black Social Workers in 1979, she became a professor at the Dalhousie School of Social Work in 1990 where she subsequently held the position of Director for 10 years. During her time at Dalhousie she developed a curriculum for the ‘Africentric Social Work’ course. In 2016, she was appointed Special Advisor on Diversity and Inclusiveness at Dalhousie University and is the first African Nova Scotian to hold a tenure track position. In 2017, the Honorable Dr. Wanda Thomas Bernard was the first African Canadian to be appointed Professor Emeritus in the School of Social Work (SSW) at Dalhousie University; she is also the first woman within the SSW to achieve this appointment. In recognition of her work to advance diversity and inclusion through leadership, activism, research and community efforts, she was awarded the Frank McKenna Award for Leadership in Public Policy in 2021. She is also a founding member and current President of the Africadian Empowerment Academy.

Through her work in the Senate, the Honorable Dr. Wanda Thomas Bernard continues to advance social justice and racial justice. She is the Deputy Chair of the Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights and a member of the Senate Standing Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology. She is proud to be a member of the African Canadian Senate Group.

Convocation Ceremony Details

The Honorable Dr. Wanda Thomas Bernard will be honoured during the convocation ceremony taking place at 10 a.m. on Friday, May 19. Convocation ceremonies will be held in the Seton Academic Centre Auditorium and will be livestreamed on YouTube and Facebook.

About the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa

Mount Saint Vincent University recognizes distinguished individuals whose accomplishments are consistent with the mission of the university by granting the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters (honoris causa) – an honour which can only be bestowed by the University Chancellor at the request of Senate. The university honours worthy recipients who have contributed to the betterment of society and humanity in any field, but in particular, improvement of the status of women, contribution to higher education, humanitarian and social service, involvement with and fostering of culture and the arts, or leadership in a field of endeavour. The convocation at which the degree is awarded is greatly enriched by the presence of honorary graduands who share the joy of the occasion.