Honorary Diploma

NorQuest College’s Honorary Diploma is one of the highest accolades our college can bestow. An honorary diploma recognizes distinguished individuals who have made extraordinary achievements, performed a service or who have had a transformational impact on the college or wider society, and who serve as examples to our college’s learners.

Honorary Diploma nominations

NorQuest College faculty, staff, board, and community members are eligible to nominate a deserving individual for a Honorary Diploma. Nominations are open year round. Please submit your completed nomination form to presidentsoffice@norquest.ca.

Honorary Diploma Nomination Form – Fillable PDF

To ensure consideration for our May 2023 convocation ceremonies, please submit by January 9, 2023.

NorQuest College Honorary Diploma winners

Portrait of Manjit Minhas

2022 recipient - Manjit Minhas: Business Leadership

Manjit Minhas is a well-known Canadian entrepreneur, television personality, and venture capitalist. As the co-owner of Minhas Breweries & Distillery, she has made an incredible impact in the Canadian business world and shared her savvy on the long-running CBC program Dragon’s Den.

Along with her keen business sense, Manjit takes social responsibility very seriously. As a responsible brewer and citizen of this country, it is important she does her part to educate Canadians on the dangers of alcohol consumption. Manjit believes that effective use of science and engineering can do a lot of good in people’s lives, and has used her engineering background in producing beer using the least amount of chemicals, gas, electricity, and water.

Manjit is the winner of dozens of business industry awards, including Canada’s Top 40 Under 40, Top 100 Women Entrepreneurs in Canada, and a Canadian Business Icon Award.

NorQuest is pleased to recognize Manjit for her contributions in blazing a path for women and people of colour entering into the field of business. Her dedication to mentorship, philanthropy, and corporate social and environmental responsibility continues to set the bar for businesses and entrepreneurs at home and around the world.

Portrait of Drs Austin and Catherine Mardon

2022 recipient - Austin and Catherine Mardon: Community Services Leadership

Drs. Austin and Catherine Mardon have made lifelong contributions to the betterment of others, particularly to those suffering from mental illness. Together they have spent more than 20 years advocating for mental health, publishing hundreds of articles, and bringing mental health issues out of the shadows and into conversation.

Austin is currently Assistant Adjunct Professor with the John Dossetor Health Ethics Centre, and was recently appointed as an Assistant Adjunct Professor in the University of Alberta Department of Psychiatry – the first time someone with schizophrenia has been appointed to such a position.

Catherine is a retired attorney whose former practice included representing the homeless, the disabled, and those with mental illnesses. She is the author of 36 books which have been translated into 18 different languages. She is a recognized expert in dealing with clients with mental illnesses and/or mental disabilities and has given over 200 public speeches to consumers, students, and professionals. Catherine currently serves as a special advisor to the Glenrose Hospital and on their Medical Ethics Board.

In the spirit of the NorQuest values of inclusion, the Mardons’ goal is to establish a network of endowed student bursaries at NorQuest College and support students suffering from mental health disorders.

Portrait of Dr. Norma Dunning

2022 recipient - Dr. Norma Dunning: Community Services Leadership

Dr. Norma Dunning has led a life with many titles: scholar, teacher, mother, storyteller, grandmother, researcher. She is an Inuk writer whose second collection of short stories, Tainna (the unseen ones) received the Governor General's literary award for English fiction in 2021. Annie Muktuk and Other Stories received the Danuta Gleed award (2018), the Howard O'Hagan Award and was bronze standing internationally for book of the year through Foreward Reviews. Her collection of poetry, Eskimo Pie: a poetics of Inuit identity was an Alberta bestseller. Her second collection of poetry Akia the other side is releasing in July of 2022 and her first work of non-fiction will release in September of 2022. In addition to her now nationally recognized publications, Dr. Dunning's curriculum development and research work has directly contributed to the advancement of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples at NorQuest College. She embodies our values in all that she does: as a writer, an instructor, a researcher, and a community member. Everyone has a story and Dr. Dunning's work shows us how those stories matter.

Past winners

2021 recipient - Samra Zafar

Samra Zafar is an award-winning internationally renowned speaker, best-selling author, and educator for equity, mental health, and human rights. She has been recognized among the Top 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada, Top 25 Most Inspirational Women in Canada, and Top 25 Canadian Immigrants.

Her book, A Good Wife: Escaping The Life I Never Chose, based on her journey of escaping an abusive child marriage to pursue her education and shed light on gender-based oppression, is a national bestseller, was one of CBC's Best Books of 2019 and is being adapted to a premium TV series.

NorQuest College is especially appreciative of the work Samra has done with women who have come out of abuse and oppression, to help them build a life of independence and dignity.

2021 recipient - Kate Quinn

Kate Quinn is the Executive Director of Centre to End All Sexual Exploitation (CEASE), an organization dedicated to building hope, respect, and transformation for all those impacted by sexual exploitation and sex trafficking in Edmonton and surrounding areas.

Kate is an advocate and community builder who collaborates to build hope, decrease social inequities, foster compassion, and build kindness.

NorQuest College recognizes and supports Kate’s meaningful contributions, accomplishments, and years of advocating for those who have experienced sexual exploitation and sex trafficking.

2019 recipient - Audrey Poitras

Audrey Poitras is known and respected for taking a compassionate, accountable, and responsible approach to social leadership activities. She is also a proven advocate for gender and race equality, and staunch promotor of the value of education — all aligning with the vision and values of NorQuest College.

Audrey has a long list of achievements. As president of the Métis Nation of Alberta (MNA) since 2006, she leads negotiations on behalf of MNA with the national and Alberta governments to increase recognition of Métis people’s rights to harvest and self-govern. She also helped establish Rupertsland Institute - Métis Centre of Excellence in partnership with the University of Alberta, which represents the education, training, and research arm of the MNA.

2019 recipient - Zarqa Nawaz

Zarqa Nawaz has used her talents as comedy writer, journalist, broadcaster, and filmmaker to help create understanding between diverse groups of people. This compelling drive has earned her a NorQuest College Honorary Diploma in Community Services Leadership.

Zarqa is best known as the creator of the world’s first sitcom about a Muslim community living in the west, Little Mosque on the Prairie, which premiered to record ratings on the CBC in 2007. She was honoured in that same year with a Gemini Award. She also made the documentary Me and the Mosque, and published a comedic memoir, Laughing All the Way to the Mosque, which was shortlisted for the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour in 2015.

2019 recipient - Salma Lakhani

Salma Lakhani is a longtime community philanthropist with a passion for education, health care, and human rights. She believes strongly in providing opportunities to those who are facing challenges in life — a mindset that has guided her service to community and earned her a NorQuest College

Honorary Diploma in Community Services Leadership. Salma embodies NorQuest’s goals of providing learners with not only an education, but the confidence to thrive in life. Leading by example, she was one of the first mentors in the college’s Youth in Transition mentorship program (now called Upgrading for ESL Youth program), providing valuable guidance for students who needed a helping hand.

2018 recipient - Hayley Wickenheiser

Wickenheiser has worked tirelessly as a mentor with sports organizations across Canada. And while hockey has struggled with diversity, she is a leading voice in efforts to bring our game’s immense benefits to non-hockey countries. In addition, she created the Canadian Tire Wickenheiser World Female Hockey Festival, providing thousands of females from around the world access not just to hockey, but to exceptional educational sessions.

Fitting for a person receiving this honour, education is top of mind for Wickenheiser. She earned a master’s degree at 37 and will soon embark on an educational journey in medicine. As a lifelong learner, a philanthropist, and a positive role model to millions, NorQuest believes she truly embodies the values and mission of the college.

2017 recipient - Marianne Ryan

Marianne Ryan is a pioneer in her own right. A woman of conviction, her career as a police officer and later the highest ranking RCMP officer in Alberta, is an inspirational tale of bucking the trend of gender inequality. Her perseverance to succeed, especially in a traditionally male dominated field, is an example to NorQuest learners where 64 per cent are female. Marianne’s outstanding success as a compassionate leader and dedication to community through meaningful service reflects the vision and outcomes NorQuest College works towards achieving.

2017 recipient - Alex Janvier

Alex Janvier is an incredible artist and human being. He has contributed enormously to the Alberta art community and beyond, teaching at various colleges and schools, and participating in environmental and First Nations issues. He is a powerful example of upholding NorQuest’s values of leadership, innovation, and lifelong learning. Among his many honours, Alex is a member of the Alberta Order of Excellence and the Order of Canada. He is also a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, Governor General Award in Visuals and Media Arts, Centennial Medal for outstanding service to the people and province of Alberta, and Cold Lake First Nations Lifetime Achievement Award.

2016 Honorary Diploma recipient - Patrick LaForge

NorQuest College conferred its eighth honorary diploma to Edmonton entrepreneur and business strategist Patrick LaForge in 2016. Patrick has been actively involved with NorQuest through his role on Maximizing Opportunities – The NorQuest Campaign Cabinet, Workforce Advisory Council, and the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation Hospitality Institute. His dedication and contribution to the college is unyielding. His tireless efforts continue to be a driving force for community and business initiatives that will help NorQuest deliver workforce relevant programming.

2015 recipient - Reza and Sylvia Nasseri

The NorQuest vision is to foster a vibrant, inclusive, and diverse learning environment that transforms lives and strengthens communities.

In 2015, the college bestowed its honorary diploma on a pair of recipients who are the embodiment of that vision. The actions of Reza and Sylvia Nasseri have had a tremendous impact on cultural understanding and better workplace practices for the community at large.

2014 recipient - Wendy Kinsella

NorQuest College conferred its fifth Honorary Diploma to former chair of the NorQuest College Board of Governors (2004-2010). City of Edmonton councillor, community advocate, and philanthropist Wendy Kinsella at the Winspear Centre on May 22, 2014.

2014 recipient - Dr. Herb Belcourt

NorQuest College conferred its fourth Honorary Diploma to Dr. Herb Belcourt, successful Edmonton businessman of Métis descent, community builder, and long-time college supporter at the Winspear Centre on May 22, 2014.

2013 recipient - The Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean

NorQuest College conferred its third Honorary Diploma to The Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, 27th Governor General and Commander in Chief of Canada from 2005 to 2010 at a special ceremony on October 24, 2013.

2013 Honorary Diploma recipient - Steven LePoole

NorQuest College conferred its second Honorary Diploma to retired CEO of Diversity Technologies Corp., former member of the NorQuest College Board of Governors and current member of the college's Youth in Transition mentorship program, Steven LePoole at the Winspear Centre on May 9, 2013.

2012 recipient - Judge Bhatia

NorQuest College conferred its first Honorary Diploma to long-time college supporter Judge Gurcharan Singh Bhatia. The conferral took place during NorQuest’s convocation ceremony at the Winspear Centre on May 10, 2012.