November 3, 2011
Professor questions honorary degree for Cherry
By ELLIOT FERGUSON, QMI Agency
Don Cherry, a huge advocate of our men and women in the military, has been selected to receive an honorary doctorate from Royal Military College — but not everyone is happy about it.
The college's senate approved awarding the controversial hockey commentator with the honour at a recent closed-door meeting.
But now at least one member of the faculty is protesting the decision publicly.
French professor Catherine Lord criticized the college's decision to honour Cherry in a letter sent to local media.
“On many occasions he publicly expressed his contempt for many groups of the Canadian population, notably for the French-speaking Canadians, for the (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered) community and for the immigrants,” Lord wrote.
“RMC is increasingly representative of the diverse society in which we live. RMC is a strong and unifying place.”
Lord questioned what kind of message granting the honorary doctorate would send to the rest of the country.
“What message will RMC send, in celebrating Don Cherry, to the students coming from these groups? And what will the Canadian people remember from RMC, as a serious and prestigious institution?”
The college generally offers honorary doctorates to two people a year, as nominated by members of the college senate.
“For more than two decades, Don Cherry has been a supporter of the military and of military families,” said college spokesperson Capt. Cynthia Kent.
“He also has personal ties to RMC.”
Cherry's mother worked as a tailor at the college. His grandfather, Richard Palamountain, worked at the college before enlisting to fight in the First World War. After the war, Palamountain returned to work at the college until shortly before his death in 1934.
The doctorate would not be the first honour given to Cherry by the Canadian Forces.
In 2008, then chief of the defence staff Gen. Rick Hillier awarded Cherry the Canadian Forces Medallion for Distinguished Service for his support of the military.
The previous year, 2007, Cherry was made an honorary lifetime member of the Royal Canadian Legion.
In 2005 Cherry was also granted honorary membership in the Ontario Association of Police.
Cherry's support for the military includes frequent mentions on Coach's Corner on CBC's Hockey Night in Canada, visits with military personnel deployed overseas and fundraising work for military families.