Well known Kimberley area resident Garry Merkel will be receiving an honorary degree from UBC. The university is handing out 18 honorary degrees and Merkel joins Dr. Bonnie Henry and climate activist Greta Thunberg as a recipient.
In addition to being a founding member of the board of the Columbia Basin Trust, where he served as vice-chair for 11 years and chair for six years, Merkel has had a long-term interest in culturally relevant education of Indigenous peoples. He is a member of the Tahltan Nation.
He was a senior negotiator and advisor for the Ktunaxa Nation Council, a Registered Professional Forester with the Association of BC Professional Foresters, a Co-Chair of the BC Minister of Forests Practices Advisory Council, and a Co-Chair of the First Nations Council of Advisors. He is a former Chair of the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology Board of Directors, and a former Chair of the BC First Nations Forestry Council. Garry is the lead negotiator for the Ktunaxa treaty negotiations and has been involved in building First Nations governments for almost three decades. His purpose is to create better ways to look after the land by empowering communities and others to build practical land-management tools, organizations, education, businesses, and public policy that integrate a deep philosophical base that worships the land.
UBC confers honorary degrees—the highest honours conferred by the university—to deserving individuals who have made substantial contributions to society. Honorary degrees are conferred honoris causa, meaning “for the sake of honour,” and are awarded as one of three types: Doctor of Laws, Doctor of Letters, and Doctor of Science. Dr. Henry is receiving a Doctor of Science, while Thunberg is receiving a Doctor of Laws.