Thompson Rivers University

Extraordinary individuals recognized with TRU honorary degrees

April 16, 2024

KAMLOOPS – Five people who have challenged and changed our perspectives nationally and globally are being honoured at this year’s Spring Convocation at Thompson Rivers University (TRU).

Honorary degrees are being bestowed upon Indigenous rights advocate Dr. Muriel Sasakamoose, award-winning playwright Kevin Loring, world-renowned poet Dr. Garry Gottfriedson, educator and Indigenous Knowledge Keeper Kye7e Cecilia Dick DeRose, and multidisciplinary scientist and author Dr. Bruce Damer.

An honorary degree is the highest form of recognition offered by TRU and awarded for demonstrated excellence in the fields of public affairs, the sciences, arts, humanities, business, law and philanthropy.

Cecilia Dick DeRose

Cecilia Dick DeRose

Convocation ceremonies take place on June 4, 5 and 6, at 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. each day, at the Tournament Capital Centre. (More details are at the end of this release.)

Kye7e Cecilia Dick DeRose, Doctor of Letters, honoris causa

Kye7e Cecilia Dick DeRose is a member of the Esk’etemc First Nation and she is a champion of language revitalization who has been nationally recognized as an Indigenous knowledge keeper. As a Secwepemctsín teacher, advisor and contributor to language programs, DeRose has had a massive impact on the healing of Secwépemc communities. She has shared her Indigenous knowledge on many projects, including a comprehensive guide to Secwépemc ethnobotany, research on culturally safe dementia care, and the works of Dr. Marianne Ignace. In the 1980s, she sat on the Katie Ross Inquiry in Williams Lake and provided cross-cultural training for the hospital, RCMP and courts. DeRose received the Indspire Award for Culture, Heritage and Spirituality in 2018.

Dr. Garry Gottfriedson

Dr. Garry Gottfriedson, Doctor of Letters, honoris causa

Dr. Garry Gottfriedson from Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc is an accomplished Indigenous poet, author, academic who is passionate about honouring Truth and Reconciliation. A powerful spokesperson for the Secwépemc First Nation, Gottfriedson tirelessly advocates for Secwépemc people, communities and language preservation. He has worked in education for over 50 years, including 37 years at TRU, as a teacher, advisor, researcher and administrator. His work has created partnership opportunities and fostered intercultural understanding among Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities. A world-renowned poet, Gottfriedson has thirteen published books, including Skin Like Mine, Clinging to Bone and Bent Back Tongue, and was inducted into the International Library of Poetry Hall of Fame in 1997.

Dr. Kevin Loring

Kevin Loring, Doctor of Letters, honoris causa

Kevin Loring is a playwright, actor and director from Nlaka’pamux First Nation. Loring’s work as a playwright includes the award-winning Where the Blood Mixes, which explores the intergenerational effects of the residential school system. His acting credits include roles in television, film and stage. An admired and influential First Nations theatre artist, he is the artistic director of Savage Society in BC and the inaugural artistic director for Indigenous Theatre at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, bringing Indigenous stories to national and international audiences and empowering First Nations artists. Loring is a TRU Distinguished Alum and was recognized with the Hnatyshyn Foundation’s REVEAL Indigenous Arts Award in 2017.

Dr. Muriel Sasakamoose

Dr. Muriel Sasakamoose, Doctor of Letters, honoris causa

Dr. Muriel Sasakamoose is a member of the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc, an educator and tireless advocate for justice and equality. A trailblazer in Indigenous rights and restorative justice, Sasakamoose co-founded the BC Native Women’s Association, was the first Indigenous person to sit on the BC Parole Board, is one of the founding Elders of the Cnukwenten First Nations Court in Kamloops and sits on the Aboriginal Community Justice Council. For 60 years, she has touched countless lives as a champion of equality for Indigenous women and girls and an advocate for rehabilitation and healing of Indigenous offenders. Sasakamoose also educates the public on Bill C-31 and Secwépemc history and culture.

Dr. Bruce Damer, Doctor of Technology, honoris causa

Dr. Bruce Damer

Dr. Bruce Damer is a multidisciplinary scientist, designer and author. A world-renowned astrobiologist at the University of California Santa Cruz Department of Biomolecular Engineering, Damer collaborates with colleagues developing and testing a new geochemical scenario for the origin of life on Earth and a framework for where it might arise elsewhere in the universe. He has provided innovative spacecraft simulation and design to NASA and others with the goal of opening a viable path for the expansion of life and human civilization beyond Earth. He is a widely published author and podcast guest and serves as co-founder and president of the Center for MINDS and chief scientist of the BIOTA Institute.


Michele Young, manager of communications content
University Relations, Thompson Rivers University
250-828-5361 |


TRU Spring Convocation 2024 schedule

Tuesday, June 4
10 a.m.
Faculty of Law
Honorary Doctorate to Kye7e Cecilia Dick DeRose

2:30 p.m.
School of Trades and Technology with Faculty of Education and Social Work
Honorary Doctorate to Dr. Muriel Sasakamoose

Wednesday, June 5
10 a.m.
Faculty of Science
Honorary Doctorate to Dr. Bruce Damer

2:30 p.m.
Bob Gaglardi School of Business and Economics
No honorary doctorate conferred

Thursday, June 6
10 a.m.
Faculty of Arts
Honorary Doctorate to Dr. Garry Gottfriedson (address by pre-recorded message)

2:30 p.m.
Faculty of Adventure, Culinary Arts and Tourism with School of Nursing
Honorary Doctorate to Kevin Loring (address by pre-recorded message)