N.B.: The detail displayed about each honorary degree recipient varies, as
the database was compiled from a variety of sources. However, more information may
be available at the University Archives.
Convocation date: November 1, 1969
Discipline / contribution: public education ; teacher's organizations
Citation / biographical information:
Eminent Chancellor, I present to you Gilbert Dunndonald Eamer.Degree received: Doctor of Laws
Gib, as he is known to thousands of teachers and other friends and associates across Canada, has from the time he first entered Grade I in the town of Alsask been continuously involved in education in this province. On graduation from Alsask High School he attended Saskatoon Normal School for a year, and began his teaching at a rural school in the Birch Hills area, Bonnie Hill School District No. 182. Some four years later he accepted the principalship of a school at Codette, which was his home for the next eleven years. It was during this time that he became actively involved in the struggle to form a single strong teachers’ organization.
Gib’s entry into the teaching profession, and subsequent involvement in professional organization could not have been more timely. At a time when the teacher was expected to light the potbellied stove, clean out the barn, teach all subjects to all children from age six to eighteen and to live on a salary of about $50.00 a month, it is an understatement to say that vigorous professional leadership was badly needed. Gilbert Earner was one of those who provided that leadership.
Gib was appointed General Secretary of the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation in 1940. That year is, therefore,a milestone both in his career and in the history of the organization. It is a double milestone for Gib, for in that year he married Arlene Corrigal. Both contracts have lasted a long time to the great benefit of the parties concerned.
Throughout his twenty—seven years of service to his professional organization, a period interrupted only for four years in the armed services, Gib had three clear goals: (1) The improvement of the economic status and working conditions of teachers, as an essential first step toward better teaching and learning. (2) The improvement of the professional competence of teachers, through extending the period of professional preparation and through professional studies and activities on the job. (3) Public recognition of the right of teachers to make choices with respect to the materials and methods of instruction in areas in which they are especially qualified. For twenty years Gib promoted these aims within the professional organization and in the public arena. In the process, he became involved in many controversies, some of them bitter ones.
It would be easy to let the pyrotechnics of some of Gib’s public controversies obscure what I think to be his strongest and most admirable characteristic. First and last, he is one who has a fundamental concern for other human beings. It is his concern for aged people that led him to become so continuously and deeply involved in the planning, financing and construction of the Jubilee residences in this city, of which the fifth unit was opened only a few weeks ago. It is his concern for young people that led him to devote a lifetime to the betterment of the teaching profession, on the simple premise that without excellent teachers we cannot have excellent schools. Eminent Chancellor I present to you Gilbert Dunndonald Earner and ask that you confer on him the degree of Doctor of Laws honoris causa.
Degree presented by: J.B. Kirkpatrick, Dean of Education
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