2017 Alumni Award Recipients

Ben Dietschi, BMus ’06, MMus ‘10

The Distinguished Young Alumni Award is presented to Brandon University Alumni, 35 years of age or younger, in recognition of their significant achievements in their profession, sport, or community service.

Ben Dietschi is currently Executive Director of Soundstreams where, with Artistic Director Lawrence Cherney C.M., he provides leadership for one of Canada’s leading contemporary music companies. Partnership building, community outreach, business development, and passionate entrepreneurialism are traits that define Ben’s approach to leadership, along with a deep-rooted belief in the arts as an agent of positive change. 

Active in the arts community, he has served on several boards, and participates as a guest speaker at conferences and post-secondary programs. Ben also founded Spectrum Music in 2010, a chamber jazz presenter focused on thematic and intersectional programming. His experience also rests on formative years as a jazz saxophonist and composer, performing across Canada and the U.S. and releasing four recordings, with the international jazz collective Tunnel Six. In 2017, among other arts leaders from around the world, Ben became a fellow at the prestigious DeVos Institute for Arts Management in Washington, DC. 

Between Spectrum Music and Tunnel Six, Ben has been awarded numerous grants, prizes, and awards from arts organizations at the municipal, provincial, and federal levels, including from the Metcalf Foundation, the University of Toronto, SOCAN, the Toronto Arts Council, Ontario Arts Council, Manitoba Arts Council, and Canada Council for the Arts.

Gordon Williams, BA ’66, MDiv ‘68

The Distinguished Alumni Award for Community Service is presented to Brandon University alumni who have made outstanding voluntary contributions to community service.

Elder Gordon Williams has been an outstanding leader, mentor and advocate for both First Nations people and all Canadians. Now retired, after a career in federal, provincial, and Aboriginal governments, including his appointment as Chair of the Indian Residential School Survivor Committee (responsible for providing advice to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission), Gordon remains committed to helping others.

Gordon served on the Board of Children’s Aid Society of Ottawa-Carleton and was a board member on various Native Friendship Centres across Canada including the Canadian Native Friendship Centre (Edmonton), Aboriginal Friendship Centre (Calgary), and the Odawa Native Friendship Centre (Ottawa). He provides Elder Services for a number of organizations, including many friendship centres, the Assembly of First Nations, the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, schools and universities. Gordon served on the Police Services Board in Ottawa where he organized cultural sensitivity training for both municipal police services and the RCMP and was a member of their respective Race Relations Committees. As part of his work for Corrections Canada, he volunteered his time to visit correctional facilities across Canada and assisted in determining the cultural needs of inmates. He facilitated the creation of the Native Court Workers Association in Calgary and Edmonton and helped promote the reconciliation of relationships and self-determination of Aboriginal peoples and their families. He has led various church youth groups and was member of the Elder’s Group for Grace Presbyterian church in Orleans, ON.

Lynn Whidden BA ‘67, B Mus ‘69, M MUS, ‘77, PhD ‘87

The Distinguished Alumni Award for Career Achievement is presented to Brandon University alumni who have made outstanding achievements in their profession, career, business, or industry. 

Dr. Lynn Whidden, now a professor emerita at Brandon University, has a doctorate in ethnomusicology from université de Montreal.  While teaching school music in Thompson, MB, Lynn also taught with BU through the Inter-Universities North program. She has carried on this work with the access programs (BUNTEP and PENT) to this day and has been fortunate to visit communities as diverse as Island Lake, South Indian and Lynn Lakes, Sioux Valley and Winnipeg. Throughout the years, her academic work has included innovative topics focused on the music of worldwide Indigenous communities which is now referenced beyond Canada both in the United States and Europe.  She has produced several recordings, a cross-Canada series of Native music videos and uses sound to create history such as A History in Sound of Gabriel Dumont’s Life, 1837-1906. There are a number of print publications too. Check Lynn’s website: soundsongmusic.com.

Lynn has not only taught music, but also endeavored to help maintain use of local traditions. She recorded indigenous oral narratives and then made them part of the curricula for students. These are now invaluable resources being sought for use in classrooms, by artists, and more recently in art galleries and for historical sites. Note that on October 29, 2017 there is a rare opportunity to hear old prairie Metis song at a Brandon University concert: From Paris to the Prairies: A Metis Song Concert.

Anthony Chow, Associate ’64

The Wall of Fame Award is presented to Brandon University alumni who have made significant achievements in their career on a provincial, national, or international level bringing honour and prestige to our University.

Dr. Chow retired from a distinguished career in clinical practice, teaching and administration in July 2006. Since retirement, Dr. Chow has continued to be active in knowledge acquisition and translation of infectious diseases nationally and internationally. He has served on the University-Industry Peer Review Committee of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Therapeutic Products Directorate of Health Canada, the clinical and scientific advisory boards of several bio-pharmaceutical companies for drug discovery, and the editorial boards of several international journals in infection and immunity. He is actively engaged in the development of several clinical practice guidelines for both the Infectious Disease Society of America and the Association of Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases of Canada.

Dr. Chow received his MD degree from the University of Manitoba in 1967. He joined UCLA as an Assistant Professor in 1972, and rose to the rank of Associate Professor in 1977. In 1979, he became Professor and founding Head of the Division of Infectious Diseases at UBC and Vancouver Hospital, a position he held until 1993. In 1994, Dr. Chow began a second career in the promotion of translational research, and the development of clinician scientists in Canada. He directed the highly successful MD/PhD Program at UBC, and spearheaded a unique CIHR-funded Strategic Training Program for Translational Research in Infectious Disease (TRID). He has held a CIHR operating grant continuously since 1978 until his retirement. He has authored over 350 peer-reviewed papers and book chapters on various clinical syndromes in infectious diseases and their diagnosis, treatment and prevention. He is co-recipient of several US and international patents on the use of protein gene sequences as universal targets for infectious disease diagnosis and microbial species identification.