Cape Breton University to Confer Four Honorary Degrees for Spring 2022 Convocation

On Thursday, May 19 and Friday, May 20, 2022, during in-person convocation celebrations, Cape Breton University will confer honorary doctorates on four individuals from Cape Breton who have made a significant impact in the arts and culture, medicine, and Indigenous Rights sectors. CBU will confer the degrees Doctor of Letters, honoris causa, on Bette MacDonald, Maynard Morrison and Senator Dan Christmas, and Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, on Dr. Rex Dunn.

“We are so proud to honour four Cape Bretoners from very different sectors that all make up the fabric of our Cape Breton culture,” says David Dingwall, CBU President and Vice-Chancellor. “Bette and Maynard are household names when it comes to arts, culture and comedy, Dr. Rex Dunn’s contribution to healthcare in our community is ground-breaking and everlasting and Senator Dan Christmas has spent his career advocating for treaty and human rights. This is what makes Cape Breton Island such a special place and we are honoured to welcome them to the CBU family.”

Bette MacDonald and Maynard Morrison 

Bette and Maynard started their careers in the performing arts at Cape Breton University’s Boardmore Theatre. Known widely for their roles in the well-loved the Rise & Follies of Cape Breton Island and the ever-popular Summertime Revue, the pair have been known to keep their audiences in hysterics for entire performances.

Together, the husband and wife duo are legends in the performing arts sector, and have each found individual success throughout their careers.

Bette MacDonald is a Gemini award-winning actor, a Nova Scotia Screen award winner, and a multiple Canadian Screen Award nominee. Her television credits include The Bette Show, This Hour Has 22 Minutes and Made In Canada. For eight seasons, she played school secretary Trudy Walsh on the hit CBC television series Mr. D. Her stage acting career began in The Boardmore Playhouse at CBU and she has since toured the country in various shows including The Cape Breton Summertime Revue. She stars in and is co-writer, along with her brother, Ed MacDonald, of Tis The Season. Currently, Bette is a member of the wildly popular Island Girls, sharing the stage with Jenn Sheppard, Lucy MacNeil and Heather Rankin.

Maynard Morrison is co-founder of The Rise And Follies Of Cape Breton Island and The Cape Breton Summertime Revue. For ten years, Maynard was a favourite at the Halifax Comedy Fest and continues his comedic career with various shows, including, Tis The Season. Maynard has made guest appearances on radio in Madly Off In All Directions and Basic Black and on television series, including Mr. D. For forty years, Maynard taught drama at Sydney Academy High School and created original shows with his students that were featured as part of CBU’s annual festival of plays.

Dr. Rex Dunn

Born in Sydney, Dr. Rex Dunn has practiced medicine for more than 43 years, starting in 1979. He has dedicated his career to advancing vascular care at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital and has cared for thousands in need of vascular care in the region. Dr. Dunn has held numerous positions throughout his career within Nova Scotia Health. These positions included Chief of Staff of the Cape Breton Regional Hospital, Vice President of Medicine of the Cape Breton District Health Authority, Governor of the American College of Surgeons, and President of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia, just to name a few.

Dr. Dunn has held volunteer positions that have had lasting impacts on the community of Cape Breton. One cause near to his heart are the missions he has taken to Guatemala. These missions provide care to people who would not otherwise be able to afford the operations they need to live an everyday life. Dr. Dunn is known for his leadership and is a proponent of teamwork and collaboration while providing care to his patients.

Senator Dan Christmas

Senator Dan Christmas has served in various leadership positions in the Mi’kmaw Nation of Nova Scotia. After serving five years as the Band Manager for the Community of Membertou, Senator Christmas worked for the Union of Nova Scotia Indians for 15 years – the last 10 as its Director.   He was actively involved in the recognition and implementation of Mi’kmaw aboriginal and treaty rights in Nova Scotia.

From 1997 to 2016, Senator Christmas held the position as Senior Advisor with Membertou and had assisted the Chief and Council and its Management Team with the day-to-day operations of the Community of Membertou.  Senator Christmas also served as elected councilor for Membertou for 18 years.

Senator Christmas has been active in a number of international, national, provincial and local agencies in a wide range of fields, including aboriginal & treaty rights, justice, policing, education, health care, human rights, adult training, business development and the environment.

In 2008, he was the recipient of the National Excellence in Aboriginal Leadership Award from the Aboriginal Financial Officers Association of Canada.

In December 2016, Senator Christmas was sworn in as an Independent Senator for Nova Scotia.  Senator Christmas is the first Mi’kmaw senator to be appointed to the Senate of Canada. He also made national news when he opened a Senate office in his community of Membertou.

Cape Breton University has been awarding honorary degrees since 1989, and during that time, has welcomed people from around the world in numerous sectors into our Alumni family.


Spring 2022 Convocation Schedule:

Thursday, May 19, 1:00 pm  

School of Arts and Social Sciences

School of Education and Health

School of Science and Technology

Honorary Degrees – Dr. Rex Dunn and Senator Dan Christmas

Friday, May 20, 11:00 am  

Shannon School of Business

Honorary Degrees – Bette MacDonald and Maynard Morrison

Convocation Ceremonies will be live-streamed at