On October 31, Cape Breton University (CBU) will bestow Honorary Doctor of Letters degrees on Eleanor Bernard and Eileen Pottie Forrester during its fall convocation ceremony being held at the Membertou Trade and Convention Centre. Both women have made major contributions to their communities and have been instrumental in sustaining the Aboriginal and Celtic cultures of Cape Breton Island.
“Just as Cape Breton University is deeply connected to its community, so too are Eleanor Bernard and Eileen Pottie Forrester. Both women have played significant roles in keeping vital cultural and educational traditions alive and flourishing on Unama’ki-Cape Breton Island. I am delighted that we are able to honour them in this way and I know we will be treated to authentic cultural celebrations during the convocation ceremony,” says David Wheeler, CBU President.
Bernard has a long and distinguished career in Aboriginal education. She has held various positions, from lecturer to teacher to vice-principal, at many different levels of education and is currently the Executive Director of Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey (MK). Under Bernard’s direction, MK has the highest graduation rates of Aboriginal students in the country and is a national example of best practices in secondary education. She’s been nationally recognized for her commitment to cultural development and educational advancement within Mi’kma’ki.
For more than 50 years, Pottie Forrester has been teaching dance to the youth of Cape Breton Island and beyond. The Forrester School of Dance is a recognized institution for the education of the arts and culture in Cape Breton and has opened its doors to thousands of students eager to learn about the history of their culture. Notably, Forrester was the first officially licenced teacher of dance on Cape Breton Island, as well as the first Scottish Official Board of Highland Dancing Adjudicator. Today, branches of the Forrester School of Dance can be found in Sydney, Mira, Glace Bay and New Waterford and Ontario, with workshops offered in Eskasoni and Membertou as well as rural areas of our Island. Besides branches throughout Cape Breton Island, teaching programs of the school are regularly requested and offered nationally and internationally.
During the convocation ceremony, graduates from around the world, their parents and guests will be treated to a cultural experience that will showcase two thriving cultures of Cape Breton Islan