B.C.’s New Lieutenant Governor is a KPU Community Member

Janet Austin received an honorary doctorate from the university in 2013

Janet Austin poses for a photo after receiving an honorary degree from KPU. (kpu.ca)

Janet Austin poses for a photo after receiving an honorary degree from KPU. (kpu.ca)

British Columbia’s newest lieutenant governor, Janet Austin, was sworn in on April 24 during a ceremony in Victoria, B.C.

As the province’s 30th lieutenant governor, Austin has long been a community activist and social advocate. Kwantlen Polytechnic University recognized her work with the community in 2013 by awarding her an honorary doctorate degree.

“It has always been an honour to speak at Kwantlen at past convocations and so it was very special to be recognized with an honorary Doctor[ate] of Law from KPU,” Austin said in an emailed statement to The Runner.

Jocelyn Lymburner, a faculty member with KPU’s department of psychology, nominated Austin for the honorary doctorate back in 2013. Lymburner says she “couldn’t think of a more deserving person” to receive the distinction.

“Janet is a force to be reckoned [with],” says Lymburner. “She is just an absolutely remarkable woman.”

She adds that Austin is particularly passionate about causes such as mentoring women and decreasing child poverty.

Lymburner and Austin’s friendship goes back approximately 20 years. The two of them worked together at Big Sisters of BC Lower Mainland, where Austin served as the organization’s executive director. She also worked with B.C. Housing and, most notably, spent 15 years as the CEO of YWCA Vancouver, where Lymburner was also a member of the board.

Austin says that her role at YWCA Vancouver taught her to have a great deal of empathy for people who have not had the privileges that she has. This experience hardened her resolve to not only recognize outstanding citizens in the community, but also to continue improving the lives of all British Columbians to the best of her ability.

While Austin was CEO of YWCA Vancouver, the organization partnered with KPU in training student volunteers who then went on to mentor high school students in a variety of youth-based programs.

Lymburner recalls the convocation ceremony where Austin received the honorary doctorate fondly. She says that, for students attending convocation, witnessing a community advocate accept an honorary doctorate can give graduating students a role model as they move towards the next chapter of their lives.

“It’s really inspiring for the graduates to see community leaders and to see what people are doing with their own education and the possibilities that open up for them,” she says.

Both Austin and Lymburner agree that Austin’s two decades spent on community activism and championing for social causes have prepared her for occupying the role of the lieutenant governor.

“I believe we are the sum total of our experiences,” says Austin. “Working at the YWCA Metro Vancouver impressed upon me the diversity of our province. I met many citizens with a range of gifts and talents that contribute to our society in wonderful ways.”

She was appointed Lieutenant Governor by the Governor General of Canada. Lymburner says that she is optimistic regarding Austin’s new role and believes that it will lead the province in a positive direction due to Austin’s passion for activism.

“I look forward to continuing to engage with the KPU community in the future in my role as Lieutenant Governor,” says Austin.

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