Honorary Doctorates & Keynote Speakers

Honorary Doctorates

The Honourable David L. Emerson,
P.C., O.B.C
Chair, Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada

June 22, 2017, 2:30pm

David Emerson has had a long and distinguished career in the public and private sectors, serving his province and country with distinction.

David served as a Member of Parliament from 2004 to 2008, as Minister for Foreign Affairs, Minister of Industry, and Minister for International Trade with responsibility for the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games and the Asia Pacific Gateway Initiative. David also played a key role in developing and signing the 2006 Softwood Lumber Agreement. He is currently BC’s Trade Envoy to the United States, dealing with softwood and other NAFTA matters.

He has also held senior leadership positions with the Government of BC (1975-1986 and 1990-1992), which included Deputy Minister to the Premier and Deputy Minister of Finance. 

In the private sector, David has held roles including President and CEO of Western and Pacific Bank of Canada (1986-1990), Vancouver International Airport Authority (1992-97), and Canfor Corporation (1998). As the first President and CEO of the Vancouver Airport Authority, he oversaw a significant increase in passenger traffic while more than doubling terminal and airside facilities to meet BC’s needs for expanded air services provincially, nationally, and internationally. In addition, he has served on many boards and advisory committees including those of Stantec, Telus, Terasen Gas, Finning, Timberwest Forest Corporation, and BC Ferries. 

David is the current Chair of the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada, which is focused on Canada's relations with Asia. David joined the Asia Pacific Foundation in 2013 as an Honorary Fellow and later assumed the position of Chair of the Board in 2015.
David has been widely recognized for his work, receiving the Member, Order of BC, 2011 and Member, Queen’s Privy Council, 2004.

Diana Swain
Senior Investigative Journalist, CBC News

June 23, 2017, 9:00am

The host of CBC News Networks' The Investigators, Diana Swain is one of Canada's leading investigative journalists and CBC News' Senior Investigative journalist.

In three decades of reporting on stories across Canada and around the globe, Diana has developed a reputation for compelling interviews and uncovering stories that Canadians care about, garnering numerous awards from the leading journalism and professional associations in Canada.

Her recent work has included an examination of the way Canadian post-secondary institutions manage allegations of assault on campus. For that work, Diana and her team won awards in 2016 from the Canadian Association of Journalists and the Radio, Television and Digital News Association.

Her groundbreaking investigation into Scouts Canada won the first-ever Canadian Hillman prize in 2012, as well the Prix Justica award from the Canadian Bar Association.

Her look at the federal government's handling of warning labels on tobacco products won the 2011 Excellence in Health reporting award from the Canadian Medical Association.

Canadians will also know Diana from her many years behind the anchor desk in Winnipeg and Toronto. She has won the Gemini for Best News Anchor three times, and was the first woman in Canada to win the award.

Diana Swain's work has twice been included in winning submissions for the Michener award, recognizing meritorious public service journalism in Canada.
Her work is frequently seen on CBC's leading news programs and she regularly fills in for Peter Mansbridge as anchor of The National.

An avowed sports fan, she has also served as an Olympic Host for CBC Sports in 2008 in Beijing and in 2012 in Sochi.

Diana was honoured with an Alumni of the Year Award from her alma mater BCIT in 2006 and an honourary degree from Humber College in Toronto in 2010.

Keynote Speakers

Tracey Arnish
Chief People Officer, Coast Capital Savings

June 21, 2017, 9:00am

As Chief People Officer at Coast Capital Savings, Tracey is responsible for all of Coast Capital’s human resource functions including talent acquisition and talent management, total rewards and corporate learning. She brings over 15 years of human resource management experience to the role and is passionate about building a strong corporate culture that connects people with the organization’s purpose.

Prior to joining Coast Capital, Tracey served as Senior Vice President, People and Culture at Canfor, a global forest products company based in Vancouver.

During her career, she has worked in both the private and public sectors with organizations such as Air Canada, Translink, Orca Bay Sports and Entertainment, and SAP.

Tracey holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Thompson Rivers University and a Master of Business Administration from Simon Fraser University.

She is active in the community and dedicates much of her time to BC Children’s Hospital, Junior Achievement BC, and to Ronald McDonald House, where she is the Board Chair.


Jessica McDonald

President and CEO, BC Hydro

June 21, 2017, 1:30pm

As President and CEO of BC Hydro Jessica leads BC's largest Crown corporation, a clean energy utility generating 98% renewable and clean electricity, transmitting and distributing to 4 million customers, with $5.5B in annual revenues. At BC Hydro Jessica oversees an ambitious capital program, investing on average $2B per year for the next 20 years to refurbish and expand our clean energy system.

Jessica has held many prior roles. Among these include mediating and negotiating commercial issues on major infrastructure and industrial projects in BC, as well as being a Deputy Minister in the BC government for 6 years as well as many other posts in the government under numerous administrations beginning in 1991. From 2005 to 2009 she held the most senior public service position in the provincial government as Deputy Minister to the Premier, Cabinet Secretary and Head of the BC Public Service, responsible for oversight of all aspects of government operations. During her term, she led landmark discussions including negotiation of the “New Relationship” between government and First Nations in British Columbia.

As Head of the BC Public Service, Jessica initiated a bold human resources renewal program, achieving a 10 point increase in employee engagement with positive gains sustained over multiple years including economic downturn. More recently, Jessica led a brand refresh at BC Hydro resulting in the company being named #1 most influential brand in BC in 2016 and in 2017, with the company also being named Canada's #1 employer in 2016.

She is a member of the BC Arbitrators’ and Mediators’ Institute and the Alternative Dispute Resolution Institute of Canada, serves as a Board Member of the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade, of Powerex, and is Chair of Powertech Labs.

She has been recognized nationally for her leadership in innovation and employee engagement including the IPAC/Deloitte National Gold Award for Public Sector Leadership.

She has served as a Mentor at the Trudeau Foundation and has been named to Canada’s Top 40 Under 40™, Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women™ and Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women Hall of Fame™. She is consistently named to the list of Vancouver's Power 50, and BC's Top 35 Powerful Women.


Parminder Singh

CEO, LifeLens

June 22, 2017, 9:00am

Parminder (Par) Singh has more than 25 years’ professional experience launching start-ups, commercializing disruptive technologies, and managing large-scale businesses for private companies, government clients, and multi-national corporations around the world.

Parminder has most recently taken the CEO role at a mature start-up called LifeLensTM, a medical device company in the final stages of launching a patch-based wearable technology that can reliably, accurately, and in real-time sense, collect, and analyze (with clinical precision) a user’s physiological and behavioral data and the environment the user is exposed to daily. The collected data is used to assess health issues, evaluate long-term health trends, and remotely monitor the well-being of loved ones.

Parminder was the President of Intellectual Ventures Canada, a $6B private equity fund that invested in early-stage disruptive technologies. He served as the first Managing Director of the Microsoft Canada Development Centre, the General Manager for Microsoft’s Home & Entertainment Division for Japan, and was head of the Business Development group responsible for the global launch of Xbox and Xbox 360.

Parminder is an active investor in disruptive technologies and serves as an advisor to young entrepreneurs with big ideas. He has established three successful start-up companies and has consulted for a multitude of Fortune 500 companies including Motorola, Microsoft, American Express, Flextronics, ATT, Boeing, Acer, Hughes Aircraft Company, Space Systems Loral, and Bell Northern Research.

Trained as an engineer, Parminder was the principal designer of three communication satellites and a systems architect of the Teledesic and Iridum satellite systems. Parminder holds a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from the Technical University of Nova Scotia.