Prominent Canadian honored

Andrew Scharf and Andrew Scharf

Acclaimed French Canadian author Roch Carrier was awarded with an honorary degree from the University yesterday. Carrier was given the degree of Doctor of Letters for his lifelong accomplishments.

“It came as a surprise to me,” Carrier said. “I am not sure I deserve it but certainly will take it with great pleasure.”

Throughout his career Carrier has written over a dozen novels including short stories and children’s books. Carrier was also the director of the Canada Council for the Arts and is currently Canada’s National Librarian.

One of Carrier’s most popular works is the short story “The Hockey Sweater”. The story explores the relationship between English and French speaking Canadians told through the eyes of a young boy. The boy mistakenly receives the sweater of the Toronto Maple Leafs, the rivals of Quebec’s Montreal Canadians. Wearing the wrong jersey of the people of Quebec the boy is not allowed to play in the youth hockey game.

“He is an icon of French Canadian culture,” Mark Kasoff, Director of the Canadian Studies Center said.

After given the honorary degree Carrier spoke as part of the annual Pallister French-Canadian Lecture. The lecture is named after Janis Pallister, Distinguished University Professor Emeritus of Romance Languages.

“Carrier is still read everyday in many languages,” Pallister said. “Irony and humor are set alongside the most serious of things in his work.”

Carrier’s speech detailed many of his life experiences especially his French Canadian heritage. Carrier said he learned some skills of writing from his father. His father would tell stories to the other men in the village ending them before they were finished. Carrier learned the effective time to end a chapter.

Carrier also spoke of his literary influences including Ernest Hemingway. Carrier grew up in a town with only one English speaking person. During his speech Carrier emphasized that anything is possible. Carrier noted that he came a long way from national librarian.

“In my home there was zero books, our traditions were all oral,” Carrier said.

Carrier closed his speech by offering words of encouragement to the students in attendance. He stressed the importance of following their dreams.

“There are a lot of interesting things in life and you must go for them,” Carrier said. “Go after your dreams.”

Following his speech BG assistant hockey coach, presented Carrier with a Falcons hockey jersey and small Toronto Maple Leafs jersey in honor of Carrier’s popular short story.