We are so proud to announce that Margot Graham Heyerhoff has been awarded an honorary Doctorate for the degree of Doctor of Civil Law, honoris causa, Margot Heyerhoff, in recognition of her tireless, selfless, and impactful advocacy for her community, for art and literacy, and for the environment.
We’d like to share with you the commencement speech given by Kerry Hull, Dean of Science at Bishop’s University. You can also watch the video here.
Mr. Chancellor, Principal Goldbloom, graduates, colleagues, family and friends. It is my honour to introduce Margot Graham Heyerhoff.
Margot’s Pinterest page features a quote from Leonard Mlodinow – “The outline of our lives, like a candle’s flame, is continuously coaxed in new directions by a variety of random events that, along with our responses to them, determine our fate.”
So let me briefly recount just a few of the random events that have led to Margot Heyerhoff’s presence with us today.
She spent time in the Townships as a high school student at King’s Hall, a boarding school in Compton, and also had a brief stint as a Bishop’s student. Several years later Margot become the first Development Director at Bishop’s College School, just across the river from us. She left the Townships in 1981, for what she may have thought was the last time. However, twenty years later, under unexpected and serendipitous circumstances, the Heyerhoff family left Oakville, Ontario to settle in the Canton de Hatley.
The subsequent twenty five years of Margot’s life could serve as a case study of local actions with dramatic impact. Her interest in land conservation and sustainability started when her family converted their land into a certified organic farm. Then, in 2011, Heyerhoff worked with friends and colleagues to establish the Massawippi Foundation and Conservation Trust. One mandate of this organization is to protect and preserve the ecosystems of the Lake Massawippi watershed – they raised over five million dollars, and now have stewardship over 1200 acres of land. These forests and fields are not only conserved, they are also used to further the organization’s goals by providing environmentally friendly hiking trails as well as sites for educational and research projects. To this day she continues to serve as President of the Foundation and Trustee of the Trust.
The foundation’s conservation efforts extend beyond their lands – they also promote sustainable agricultural practices through education and research grants. In addition, as a key supporter of Bishop’s Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems program as well as the Educational Farm, Margot is a passionate advocate for agro-environmental farming practices that keep our soil healthy as well as preserve the biodiversity of insects, birds and plants.
To expand the scope of her work outside the Townships, Margot mentors others across the province of Quebec as they establish conservation trusts in their areas. As a testament to her reputation, she was invited to share the Massawippi Foundation story at the 2022 UN Biodiversity Conference.
Ainsi, Margot Heyerhoff a contribué de manière significative aux efforts de conservation locaux, régionaux et internationaux, non seulement par ses propres actions, mais aussi en fournissant l’éducation, les conseils et les fonds nécessaires pour que d’autres puissent faire de même.
But there is more. An accomplished artist and art collector, Margot has converted a dilapidated barn on her farm into a non-profit art gallery and cultural space. The gallery has been the venue for numerous cultural activities, including historical and architectural exhibitions, fundraising events for local charitable entities, and book launches for local authors.
In sum, Margot has dedicated herself to her community and to the sustainability of our planet.
Mister Chancellor, I present to you for the degree of Doctor of Civil Law, honoris causa, Margot Heyerhoff, in recognition of her tireless, selfless, and impactful advocacy for her community, for art and literacy, and for the environment.