Carleton University today conferred a Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, on Her Excellency Sharon Johnston in recognition of her career in rehabilitation science, her work in the field of child psychiatry, and as a Canadian author all while serving Canada, especially at Rideau Hall.
Johnston was honoured during the first day of Convocation. About 4,380 students will be receiving their degrees over four days of ceremonies.
“I am very humbled to receive this honorary doctorate from Carleton University, thank you for this great honour,” said Johnston. “To my fellow graduates of the class of 2016, I encourage you to be your own witness to the contributions of our Indigenous populations. Let us embrace our history and our diversity because we would not be where we are today without them.”
She began her career in Kingston, Ont., as a psychiatric occupational therapist with young adults at Kingston General Hospital. She also worked as a therapist at Beechgrove, a treatment centre for children with learning and behavioural problems. When the family moved to Toronto, she worked at the Crippled Children’s Centre in Occupational Therapy.
In 1966, she completed her studies in physical and occupational therapy at the University of Toronto. Later, she completed a Bachelor of Science at the University of Western Ontario, a Master of Science at McGill University and her PhD in Rehabilitation Science at McGill University.
Johnston recently published her first novel Matrons and Madams, a fictional account of life in southwestern Alberta during a colourful, post-Great War era, based on her grandmother’s experiences.
“Her Excellency, Sharon Johnston has lived a life of exuberant reinvention as rehabilitation scientist, entrepreneur, novelist and healthcare activist,” said Norman Hillmer, professor in the Department of History. “No sooner than her circumstances in life change, than she adapted. Her challenges were opportunities in disguise.”
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