Colourful ribbon

Gala honours Queen’s most accomplished alumni

A world-renowned choral composer and a Métis lawyer dedicated to the protection of Indigenous rights are among this year’s honorees at the Queen’s University Alumni Association Awards Gala.

This year’s ceremony, slated for June 17 in the Biosciences Complex Atrium, will see 11 individuals and one organization honoured for their outstanding service to the university and their communities.

“The graduates we are recognizing are adding to the Queen’s tradition of alumni who go on to achieve greatness and contribute to a better world,” says QUAA President Colin McLeod, Artsci’10. “The QUAA Gala is a chance to celebrate dedicated individuals and thank them for their tireless efforts.”

Eleanor Daley, Mus’78, is receiving the Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award, the highest honour bestowed by the QUAA. Daley is an internationally accomplished choral composer who has published more than 150 compositions. Her works are sung around the globe, including her most famous piece, Requiem. She has been described by one conductor as “one of the world’s best known and most eloquent choral composers.” She was recently appointed to the Order of Canada.

Past Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award recipients include NASA astronaut Drew Feustel, PhD ’95, former Princeton University president Shirley Tilghman Arts’68, DSc’02, and journalist and MSNBC Chief Correspondent Ali Velshi, Artsci’94, LLD’16.

This year’s Outstanding Alumni Achievement Award is going to lawyer Cheyenne Arnold-Cunningham, Artsci’14. This honour recognizes mid-career alumni (normally less than 30 years after graduation) who are making significant contributions in their field. 

Arnold-Cunningham is currently a researcher at the Indigenous Law Research Unit (ILRU) at the University of Victoria. She works in partnership with Indigenous communities all across Canada alongside the ILRU team to assist in rebuilding and articulation of Indigenous laws in different contexts (such as human rights, land and water protection, and citizenship). Arnold-Cunningham also works as in-house counsel at the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, working largely for the protection of First Nations’ rights, and treaty rights.

Curtis Carmichael is receiving the One to Watch Award. The Artsci/PHE’16 grad was recently named to Forbes magazine’s 30 Under 30 list.  He founded Source Code Academy, Canada's first culture-focused academy for youth, by offering courses on topics such as entrepreneurship and technological innovation. The former Gaels football player biked across Canada in 2017 and raised $100,000 for Toronto Community Housing after-school programs.

The other award winners are:

Alumni Global Citizenship Award:  
Kate Rocklein, NSc’01

Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Indigenization Alumni Award: 
Victoria Loh, Law’03

Herbert J. Hamilton Award: 
Rico Garcia, Artsci’14

Marsha Lampman Award (three recipients): 
Aliya Hollingsworth, Artsci’13
Irene Wood, Artsci’79
Bruce Miller, Sc’72

Outstanding Student Leader: 
Ben Arhen, Artsci’20, MSc’22

Initiative of the Year Award: 
Queen’s Black Alumni Chapter Cookout during Homecoming weekend

Queen's Student Alumni Association Volunteer of Distinction Award:
Laavannya Navaratnam, Artsci’23

Also being honoured at the Gala are this year’s recipients of the Agnes Benidickson Tricolour Award: Laura Devenny, Artsci’23, Samara Lijiam, Artsci’23, Jane Mao, Artsci’21, MEd’23, and Nishana Ramsawak, PhD’24. The award is one of the top student honours at Queen’s. It is given annually by the Office of the Rector to students for “valued and distinguished service, leadership, character, and community impact.”
Tickets for the Awards Gala will go on sale on April 18. For more information, visit the Queen's Alumni Events page.