University of Regina to award three honorary degrees at 42nd Spring Convocation

News Release Release Date: June 1, 2016 10:00 a.m.

Three outstanding individuals, including two brothers, will receive honorary doctorate degrees at the University of Regina’s 42nd Spring Convocation ceremonies, taking place June 1-3 at the Conexus Arts Centre.

On June 1, businessperson, entrepreneur and philanthropist Gavin Semple will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.

On June 2, virtuoso guitarist, Gemini and Juno award winner Jack Semple will be awarded an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree.

On June 3, Tammy Cook-Searson, a community leader, politician, businessperson and the first woman elected as Chief of the Lac La Ronge Indian Band, will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.

“On behalf of the University of Regina I would like to congratulate the 2016 Spring Convocation honorary degree recipients,” said President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Regina, Dr. Vianne Timmons. “Each of them has contributed greatly to bettering their home communities and the province as a whole. They are most worthy recipients of this honour, and tremendous role models for our graduates.”

Honorary degrees are the highest honour the University can bestow. Recent recipients of University of Regina honorary degrees include: businessman and community leader Don Black; Canadian ambassador to Ireland Kevin Vickers; prominent businessman and patron of the arts Bill Shurniak; and Canadian singer/songwriter k.d. lang. Other recipients include former Saskatchewan premiers Tommy Douglas, Allan Blakeney and Roy Romanow; former Saskatchewan Lieutenant Governors Sylvia Fedoruk and Lynda Haverstock; hockey great Gordie Howe; The Princess Royal, Princess Anne; and dozens of other outstanding researchers, writers, artists, philanthropists, humanitarians and leaders.


Gavin Semple
Semple is an entrepreneur from a modest farm background who transformed a small electrical contracting company into Brandt Industries Ltd. and the Brandt Group of Companies, the first privately held business in Saskatchewan to achieve $1 billion in annual sales.

He is one of six children raised on the family farm north of Regina, learning at an early age the value of hard work, which he supplemented with recordings and books about personal development and motivation. Semple was a natural sales person, selling everything from duck decoys to insurance before joining Brandt Machine and Manufacturing as a salesman. Four years later he was president and general manager. He subsequently helped guide the growth of the business over many years as president and CEO, and continues to serve as Chairman.

He has received many awards and honours for his business success and philanthropic contributions, including actively supporting the renewal and expansion of the Luther College High School campus, and in establishing Brandt’s “Thanks a Billion” corporate giving program.

Jack Semple
Semple is a virtuoso guitarist and performer whose musical interests are eclectic and wide-ranging, although he is often categorized as a blues musician. He began playing guitar when he was nine, and refined his mastery of his instrument through many years of dedicated practice.

He is the youngest of six children who grew up on the family farm north of Regina. Largely self-taught, he began playing in various Regina-based bands in his teens before performing with the Lincolns, a funk and rhythm and blues band based in Toronto. After two years he returned to Regina to raise his family.

Semple tours regularly, and has released 10 solo albums, while also contributing to television and film soundtracks from his basement studio. He has a Gemini award for his soundtrack work on the television series Incredible Story Studio and a Juno award for Qu’Appelle, an album of roots music.

Tammy Cook-Searson
Cook-Searson is a community leader, politician, businessperson, wife and mother. She is a contemporary woman who is also rooted in her traditional Cree language and culture. As a child, her parents spent part of each year hunting, trapping and fishing, and the experience of living on the land strongly influenced her. Cook-Searson believes it is important to continue practicing the traditional ways that respect the land, the plants and the animals.

Cook-Searson was first elected as Councillor for the Lac La Ronge Indian Band in 1997, and became the first woman elected as Chief of the Band in 2005. She has been re-elected ever since. With more than 10,000 members, she leads the largest First Nation in Saskatchewan

By virtue of her position as Chief, Cook-Searson is also President of Kitsaki Management Limited Partnership, the for-profit development arm that employs from 900-1,400 Band members in various businesses.