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Capilano University honours outstanding alumni, individuals and organizations


Dianne Whelan

Elicia MacKenzie (with Andrew Lloyd Webber)

Rob Butler

Seanna McPherson

James Haga and friends

Monday, April 26, 2010
Contact:  Janis Connolly at 604.990.7968


(NORTH VANCOUVER, B.C.)—Several outstanding individuals and organizations were recognized April 22 for their contribution to Capilano University’s mission of enabling student success at the 2010 Alumni Awards of Excellence.

Distinguished Alumni Award recipients were: Rob Butler, one of Canada’s top ornithologists and wildlife biologists who has inspired generations of biologists; and bestselling author, Anosh Irani, whose books The Cripple and His Talismans, The Song of Kahsunsha, and his latest novel, Dahanu Road,  have received literary acclaim worldwide.

The One to Watch recipients included filmmaker Marshall Axani, whose short film The Light of Family Burnam, garnered seven awards at the Vancouver Short Film Festival, including Best Director and Best Picture; James Haga, a graduate from Capilano University’s Global Stewardship program who completed an internship with the African Canadian Continuing Education Society in Kenya and earned accolades for quickly building efficiencies into their programs in the Kakemega region. Upon graduating from Cap, James went on to Simon Fraser University where he became a Rhodes Scholarship nominee; Capilano University Musical Theatre graduate, Elicia MacKenzie, who captured the hearts of the Canadian public in 2008 when she auditioned for and won the coveted role of Maria in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Sound of Music. Elicia won a Dora for her performance in the production that ran for 15 months at Toronto’s Prince of Wales Theatre. She is currently rehearsing for the starring role of Sherry in the Mirvisch production musical, Rock of Ages; Dianne Whelan, an accomplished photographer and documentary filmmaker who is currently at 17,000 feet on Mt. Everest filming her next production, 40 Days at Base Camp. Her film, This Land, was awarded Best Short Canadian Documentary at the 2009 Planet in Focus Film Festival in Toronto. Her experience in the Canadian High Arctic was the subject of her first book, This Vanishing Land

The Outstanding Teaching Award recipient is Seanna McPherson. Seanna brings years of experience working in the film industry and has been teaching in Capilano’s Motion Picture Production Program since 2003. In addition to her commitment in the classroom to teaching, Seanna led the process for developing the Bachelor of Motion Picture Arts Degree that has just received final approval from the Ministry of Advanced Education.

President’s Service Award Recipients include: The Advisory Council  for the McRae Institute for International Management. The Advisory Council was instrumental in the development of Capilano’s award-winning McRae Institute for International Management. Members of the Advisory Council included: Atonio Arreaga-Valdes – Honorary Consul General of Costa Rica in Vancouver; Dr. David Fung – founder of ACDEG International; Bill Johnson, former Canadian Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City; Johnathan Manthorpe, The Vancouver Sun’s International Affairs columnist and foreign correspondent; Andre Nudelman, chairman of Addexo and leader of its international expansion; and the late Jonathan Powles, who was one of the most significant figures in Canada-Japan relations, including Japan chair for BC’s Asia Pacific Trade Council, among other official posts; Sewell’s Marina, a family run operation that has over the years offered professional, positive work experiences for many Capilano students; Pacific Arbour Retirement Communities, which, as the lead sponsor of Capilano’s Eldercollege program, has enabled Capilano to offer programming accessible to seniors at locations around the North Shore. PAG has also provided funds to support Continuing Education’s summer camps for children and last year funded the Pacific Arbour Speaker Series at Capilano’s Performing Arts Theatre, which featured discussions by renowned author Margaret Atwood and Canadian physician Ray Wiss, who wrote a memoir of his experiences working on the front lines in Afghanistan; and, RBC, which has become a partner in working with arts programs at Capilano to help ensure our students have the opportunity to engage in the kind of relevant hands-on experience that is essential for them to move their art careers forward.



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