alumni stories

by Allison Barss

As 2022 ends, we take a moment to celebrate the many accomplishments of Dal alumni this year. You advocated for marginalized communities, alternative energy and access to clean drinking water; gave generously through Dalhousie to support future generations; offered a helping hand to Ukrainians seeking passage to Canada, and did so many other incredible things! Here, we look back at 13 alumni stories we were proud to share this year.

Igor Yushchenko (LLM’12)

1. When Russia invaded his home country in February, Halifax-based, Ukranian-born lawyer Igor Yushchenko (LLM’12) used his legal expertise to create a new expedited immigration stream to help fellow Ukrainians find passage to Canada. He felt he had to. “We are fighting against one of the most powerful enemies in the world,” he told us.

2. Tech whiz, Paul Gauthier (BSc’94), takes complex disciplines like artificial intelligence, computer vision and augmented reality, and uses them to create applications that simplify everyday life. He’s also a philanthropist, dedicated to helping children receive post-secondary education, and preserving the wildness of Nova Scotia’s eastern shore.

3. Indigenous activist and Dal honorary degree holder Dr. Cindy Blackstock (LLD’18), executive director of The First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, came back to Dal as the 2022 Shaar Shalom keynote lecture, where she implored the Dal community to use their voices to demand justice for Indigenous children. Referencing the horror of residential schools and other mistreatments, she asked, “Can we break the pattern? Can we hold our focus long enough to hold government to account?”

Left to right: Michelle Williams (BSW’91) and Jalana Lewis (JD’13)

4. Growing up African Nova Scotian in Halifax, Jalana Lewis (LD’13) was aware of Dal, but she wasn’t sure the university was aware of her. Now, as Dal’s first Director of African Nova Scotian Community Engagement, Lewis, along with fellow alum Michelle Williams (BSW’91), assistant professor at the Schulich School of Law, are among those driving creation and implementation of Dal’s first African Nova Scotian Strategy. We checked-in with them on its progress during African Heritage month.

5.  Jeremy Dutcher (BA’12) is a Polaris prize-winning performer, composer, activist and musicologist, who weaves his Wolastoq First Nation roots into the music he creates. In May, he returned to Dalhousie to co-headline Resounding, a rousing celebration to reopen the Dal Arts Centre and celebrate the successful completion of the Performing Arts Campaign. “I always love coming back and performing at the Cohn. It reminds me of my days as a student at Dal,” Dutcher said.

Dalhousie’s spring 2022 honorary degree recipients.

6. At Dal’s first in-person convocation ceremonies in three years, we welcomed new alumni into our community — which now numbers over 150,000 alumni living in more than 150 countries worldwide! We also named eight new honorary degree recipients, all of whom, if not already, also became Dal alumni.

7. An architect. A survivor’s advocate. A chief. A healthcare provider. A judge. The 2022 Aurum Award winners are all these things and so much more. They are dedicated to the social, cultural and economic well-being of society. Get to know the inspirational Bryan Langlands (March’92), Glori Meldrum (BComm’95), Chief Sidney Peters (Dip Tech Agriculture’84), Patricia Lingley-Pottie (BN’88/PhD’11) and Sheila Ray (BA’77, LLB’80) in a video tribute.

Dr. Leisha Hawker (MD’11)

8. Equity and social justice advocate Dr. Leisha Hawker’s (MD’11) work with marginalized communities and improving work-life integration in the physician workforce are changing the profession. In June, when she was installed as Doctors Nova Scotia’s newest president, she reflected on how her Dal preceptors and mentors helped propel her.

9. In September, we celebrated 10 years of having agriculture alumni as part of our community. In 2012, Dalhousie and the Nova Scotia Agricultural College – the province’s two largest postsecondary research institutions – merged to pursue excellence in agricultural teaching and research, creating Dal’s Faculty of Agriculture. We looked back at all that’s happened since and ahead to a bright future together.

Dr. Theresa Chiang (BSc’61, DDS’65), alongside members of Dal’s Faculty of Dentistry, cutting the ribbon at the new surgical clinic this past fall.

10. Dalhousie’s Faculty of Dentistry cut the ribbon on a new surgical clinic this fall. It will treat paediatric and adult special needs patients, help reduce wait times, and enhance training for dentistry students and residents. The new clinic is largely thanks to Dr. Theresa Chiang (BSc’61, DDS’65), who made an incredible $1 million gift to create the clinic in memory of her late husband, paediatric physician and Dal alum, Dr. Wah Jun Tze (MD’65).

11. Alternative energy was the big winner at the inaugural Falling Walls Lab – Atlantic Canada pitch competition in September. Tina Taskovic (MSc’20) placed second for her work improving the lifetime of lithium-ion batteries as a pathway to decarbonize our energy infrastructure, and will head to Berlin for the finals. Matthew Laforest (BEng’22), who envisions using dehumidification technology to bring clean drinking water to those who need it most, placed third.

Patrick Hennessey (BEng’17), left, and Dr. Kevin Spencer (BEng’00 and MD’09) appearing on the CBC show Dragon’s Den in October (CBC)

12. When Dal students Brad MacKeil (BEng’17), Patrick Hennessey (BEng’17) and Dr. Kevin Spencer (BEng’00 and MD’09) invented a device to quickly and safely remove rings from swollen fingers as their capstone engineering project, little did they know that a few years later they’d appear on CBC’s Dragon’s Den in order to pitch their product to venture capitalists. How did they make out on the show back in October? Read our alumni news story to find out.

13. Brad Pickard (MArch’10) of Saskatchewan-based Oxbow Architecture and Dalhousie Architecture  Professor Emeritus, Richard Kroeker, picked up a World Architecture Festival Prize in Lisbon, Portugal for a powwow stadium they designed for the Muscowpetung Saulteaux First Nation on Treaty 4 Territory in south-east Saskatchewan. It was created in consultation with community and band leadership to strengthen traditions, celebrate culture and encourage community members to pass along knowledge to future generations.

We extend our thanks to all Dalhousie alumni who reached out or responded to our requests to be interviewed in 2022 so we could celebrate you through feature stories like these. If you have news to share in 2023, please submit a Class Note or email us at so we may follow up with you.