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Bruce Cockburn recognized for humanitarianism


Queen’s will award Canadian music legend and humanitarian Bruce Cockburn with an Honorary Doctor of Divinity at the 2007 Queen’s Theological College Spring Convocation.

The singer-songwriter will receive his degree on Wednesday, May 9 at 8 pm in Grant Hall, in recognition of his artistic, humanitarian and theological contributions to society. He will give an address as part of the ceremony. The public is welcome to attend.

Raised on a farm near Pembroke in the Ottawa Valley, Mr. Cockburn studied at Berklee College of Music in Boston in the mid 1960s and released his first album, Bruce Cockburn, in 1969.

With a musical career spanning more than 40 years, Mr. Cockburn is well known in Canada for his contributions to music and humanitarian causes. He has maintained a personal conviction that there is a spiritual component to life that influences much of human behaviour. Through his singing, songwriting, and humanitarian activism, Cockburn has successfully drawn the attention of Canadians and people around the world to the spiritual dimension of life.

Mr. Cockburn’s songs are infused with religious imagery, drawing largely, although not exclusively, from the Christian tradition, the Faculty Board of the Queen’s Theological College noted in his nomination. His travels to Central America and the injustices he saw there influenced his music. Mr. Cockburn never lost sight, however, of the injustices in his own backyard and his songs continued to draw attention to the plight of First Nations people in Canada. He supports causes for human and ecological justice, including Friends of the Earth, The David Suzuki Foundation, War Child Canada, Mines Action of Canada, and USC Canada.

In honouring Bruce Cockburn, the college is showing its support for those who present their theology and their justice action in a popular medium that reaches across secular-religious divides and speaks to the hearts of Canadians as well as many around the globe.

“It not only fits with the curious position that the Theological College occupies within a secular university, but also fits with the strategic plan of the university that blends a foundation of excellence with a concern for relevance in the global perspective,” the nomination stated.

With 29 albums and numerous singles, Cockburn has garnered seven JUNO Awards, in addition to receiving the inaugural Humanitarian Award from the JUNOs in 2006. Other honours received include three previous honorary doctoral degrees from St Thomas University, Berklee College of Music, and York University. Bruce Cockburn is also an Officer of the Order of Canada.


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