KAMLOOPS — She was an important part of the Kamloops arts community, serving as the Executive Director of Western Canada Theatre for 18 years, leaving Kamloops just two months ago after being named the National Arts Centre’s first-ever managing director of Indigenous Theatre.
Friday morning, Lori Marchand became Thompson Rivers University’s newest recipient of an honorary doctorate degree, the highest honour the institution can bestow.
“I’m still processing it,” Marchand said after the ceremony. “I’m very obviously honoured and humbled beyond belief. Especially with this school of other honorary doctorates, I’m in some very, very fine company.”
That company includes her father, the Honourable Len Marchand Sr - Canada’s first ever “status Indian” elected to Parliament - who had the honour bestowed upon him in 1999.
“He was an amazing man,” Marchand reflected. “More than anything, he was my Dad. To receive this honour is really unbelievable.”
Her family was a theme of Marchand’s remarks to the Faculty of the Arts graduating class which was fitting, considering her daughter Carling Ryan was on stage to watch her Mom receive the honorary degree.
“It was a very unique experience,” Ryan told CFJC Today. “When my Mom was saying her beautiful words I had nobody to hold my hand.”
Marchand’s speech touched on the strength and love of her own Mother, Donna Parr, who was in the audience to watch her daughter being honoured.
“Family is very important to us,” Ryan said. “I really think she drove home that my Grandma is the orchestrator, so that was awesome to hear.”
A large part of Marchand’s work with Western Canada Theatre was shining a light on unique indigenous voices. Work she is continuing at the National Arts Centre as that institution's first-ever managing director of Indigenous Theatre.
“The honorary degree, it really is the highest honour we can give through the university to individuals who have really made a significant contribution,” TRU Chancellor Nathan Matthew explained. “And man, [Marchand] really fits that bill.”
For Marchand, the opportunity to share the day with not only her family but the students celebrating the culmination of all their hard work was truly an honour.
“Education is maybe only second to family, in terms of importance,” Marchand said. “My wish is that their education inspires them to continue learning, to continue sharing that knowledge, and bringing forth that knowledge into the world. It’s a tremendous, tremendous accomplishment.”
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