Mi'kmaq elder, gardening expert to get honorary degrees from MUN

Seven people, including a Mi'kmaq elder from Flat Bay and a gardening expert from Torbay, will be awarded honorary degrees from Memorial University of Newfoundland in its 2017 spring convocation.

The honorary doctorate is designed to recognize extraordinary contribution to society or the university or exceptional intellectual or artistic achievement.

Calvin White is described by the university as one of the founders of the Aboriginal revival in the province. He helped organize families in Conne River and Labrador into a group that became the Federation of Newfoundland Indians.

A former chief of the Flat Bay band, White was one of the people who began a 1989 legal action that resulted in the Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation.

Gardening expert, science guy

A man known for dispensing gardening advice on CBC Radio's Crosstalk will also pick up an honorary degree.

Ross Traverse, originally from Loon Bay, now a resident of Torbay, already holds a masters degree in agriculture and worked for 25 years with the Newfoundland and Labrador government as director of crop production.

Traverse helped establish the province's first commercial peat farm at St. Shotts on the southern shore of the Avalon Peninsula. Since retiring, he has run his own greenhouse in Torbay, and in 2006 published a book about gardening in a cool climate.

Memorial University is also recognizing Bob McDonald, host of CBC's Quirks and Quarks, known as 'the science guy' for his ability to explain complex subjects in everyday language.

Other recipients include Moya Greene of St. John's, who has held senior posts in a number of government departments and agencies, most recently as president and CEO of Britain's Royal Mail Group.

The founder of the Special Olympics, Frank Hayden,  businessman and philanthropist Donald Lawson, and environmentalist and politician Marilyn Churley will also be recognized.

About 2,500 students will receive their degrees as well, in convocation ceremonies May 18 in Corner Brook and May 30 to June 2 in St. John's.