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Honorary degree citation - Thomas H.B. Symons

By: Graeme Decarie, June 1981

Mr. Chancellor, I have the honour to present to you Thomas Symons who, as historian, educator, and humanitarian, has found a focus for his many concerns in helping Canadians to understand themselves better and to use that understanding in a spirit of tolerance and cooperation.

One finds his concerns expressed in a wide range of services extending from his local community to the international community, in all of which he has been an active member, often a founding member, of organizations dedicated to understanding, to mediation, and to cooperation. To select only a few examples, he has been, at the local level, a member of civic committees and advisor to the historical society. In his native province of Ontario, he has been chairman of the Human Rights Commission, and has frequently acted as mediator between francophones and anglophones. Nationally, he has been President of the Canadian Association in Support of Native Peoples, and Vice-President of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Internationally, he has been chairman of the Association of Commonwealth Universities and is a charter member of World University Service of Canada.

All of these concerns came together in 1972 when he was appointed chairman of the Commission of Canadian Studies. A result of his work on that commission was a challenging report he titled To Know Ourselves. It is a report whose call for cooperation between scholars of all disciplines to explore and to teach the nature of being Canadian has been taken up by universities in Canada, the United States, Europe, and Asia. One can add with some pride that the challenge has been taken up nowhere more enthusiastically than at Concordia University; and with more pride that Concordia is today adding to its roster of graduates in Canadian Studies. As their training has been shaped by Thomas Symons' inspiration, we can have every confidence that their uses of it will be shaped by his humanity.

Mr. Chancellor, on behalf of the University Senate, and by the authority of the Board of Governors, I present to you Thomas Symons, that you may confer on him the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.

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