John Jansen will receive an honorary degree from the University of the Fraser Valley on June 4. (Darren McDonald/ UFV)

UFV bestows honorary degree on Chilliwack community leader

John Jansen helped pave way for upgrades to education, health care, transit, and more

John Jansen smiles, twisting the thick brassy ring on his right hand while casting kind eyes toward the Vedder’s cold, fast waters.

“It’s amazing how it all works out,” he says as the ring’s wide UFV logo catches light on a small corner of the 200-plus acres he helped acquire.

“I think we’ve done pretty good here.”

A dynamic, tenacious and creative community advocate with decades of public service, Jansen helped pave the way for countless upgrades to education, health care, transit, and other services.

For this and much more, the Chilliwack community leader will be recognized for his outstanding achievements with an honorary Doctor of Laws degree at the University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) at its June 5 afternoon Convocation ceremony. The ceremony takes place at the Abbotsford Centre and the public is welcome.

“It really is an honour, I didn’t expect this at all,” Jansen says.

“When they told me, I just about got tears in my eyes because it’s been a real passion of mine, having this incredible university providing such immense opportunities for our children and our future.”

One of nine children and barely speaking a word of English, Jansen arrived in Chilliwack at age five, having sailed from Holland before crossing Canada by train.

Eventually becoming a Chartered Professional Accountant, he was elected as a Chilliwack city councillor and as mayor before serving as an MLA, representing the Social Credit party. During his time in the provincial government, he served as Minister of International Business and Immigration, Minister of Finance, and Minister of Health. He was a member of the provincial caucus when Fraser Valley College received university-college status from the government, a key development in UFV’s history.

As president of with the Chilliwack Economic Partners Corporation he led the purchase of more than 200 acres from the Canada Lands Corporation to enable the development of Chilliwack’s Canada Education Park — bringing the RCMP, Canada Border Services Agency, and the Justice Institute of B.C. to locate educational programs there along with UFV. This development helped attract many large businesses to the community, providing local job opportunities and further stimulating economic growth.

As president of the Chilliwack Hospital Foundation he continues to work tirelessly supporting and expanding health services — driving a $5-million campaign to successfully complete Fraser Health Authority’s $35-million expansion of Chilliwack General Hospital.

As a member of council, Jansen was involved in the development of the Chilliwack Airport, and creation of Townsend Park and Exhibition Field Stadium. He also served as Chair of the Fraser Valley Regional District. Respected and admitted by his peers, he received a legacy award from the Chilliwack Chamber of Commerce, a fellowship by the Certified General Accountants Association of Canada, and a Paul Harris Fellowship from Rotary International.

“It’s been a genuine pleasure serving my community all these years,” he says.

“I’m so blessed, and couldn’t be more proud.”

Honorary degrees

UFV will also recognize a B.C. author with a growing global reputation, a Coast Salish carver and the entrepreneur behind some of the world’s best wine at its Convocation ceremonies over June 4 and 5.

Esi Edugyan

Author Esi Edugyan of Victoria has won the prestigious Giller Prize for Canadian literature twice, including in 2018 for her novel Washington Black, which was also named to a number of Canadian and international Top 10 and bestseller lists.

Edugyan first won the Giller in 2011 for Half-Blood Blues — which was also shortlisted for the several other awards.

Edugyan was nominated for the honorary degree by UFV Provost Eric Davis.

Francis Horne Sr.

Francis Horne Sr. is a world-renowned Coast Salish master carver whose stirring work has been represented in a range of top Vancouver galleries since his professional career started almost 50 years ago.

But perhaps Horne’s most refined sculpting has resulted from providing guidance and teaching, rather than from knife or chisel.

He taught UFV’s Indigenous Carving certificate courses; he mentored clients in recovery from corrections at Vision Quest Recovery Society; and now he advises and advocates for Aboriginal patients at Fraser Health Authority.

Anthony von Mandl

Intensity, infectious passion, overcoming obstacles by innovation, and an unwavering commitment to his vision led Anthony von Mandl to begin his journey four decades ago. Born in Vancouver and European educated, Anthony, without resources, founded a wine importing firm in Vancouver at the age of 22. Despite difficult initial years, he successfully grew Mark Anthony Wine Merchants, and began to realize his dream: to produce world-class wines in British Columbia’s then unknown Okanagan Valley.

In 2016, von Mandl was appointed as an Officer of the Order of Canada and he is also the recipient of the Order of British Columbia. He is also a co-recipient of ‘The Warren Bennis Award for Leadership Excellence’. Previous winners include Mikhail Gorbachev, Benazir Bhutto, and Howard Schultz of Starbucks. Anthony is also the Chairman of The von Mandl Family Foundation, supporting cancer research in Canada and the U.S.


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