Michael Audain, OC, OBC (BA’62, BSW’63, MSW’65, LLD’14), chairman of Polygon Homes, is the recipient of the 2019 Alma Mater Society’s Great Trekker Award. Initiated in 1950, the award honours a UBC alumnus who has achieved eminence in their field, made special contributions to the community, and shown ongoing support of their alma mater.
On Friday, March 22, AMS President Marium Hamid presented the award at the AMS All Presidents’ Dinner, an annual celebration to commemorate the achievements of UBC’s outstanding student leaders. While he was a student in the 1960s, Audain displayed the same spirit of leadership, as evidenced by his passionate acceptance speech. He was founder and president of the Nuclear Disarmament Club, led UBC’s student protests against nuclear arms, and co‑founded the BC Civil Liberties Association.
Audain is one of Canada’s leading philanthropists and chair of the Audain Foundation, which supports the visual arts and wildlife conservation. He is an officer of the Order of Canada and a member of the Order of British Columbia. Audain continues to make an extraordinary impact on his alma mater, where his vision has helped enrich the UBC campus and make a difference to the lives of students.
He established the Audain Graduate Fellowships in Curatorial Studies and has supported UBC’s Audain Art Centre, the Audain Gallery at UBC’s Museum of Anthropology, and exhibitions and contemporary art acquisitions at the university’s Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery. UBC’s Reconciliation Pole, which was raised in April 2017, was jointly commissioned by the Audain Foundation and UBC. Dr. Audain was also a member of UBC’s start an evolution Campaign Cabinet from 2008 to 2015 and served on the Faculty of Arts Dean’s Advisory Board for many years.
History Keepers of the Kootenays
The City of Nelson and its Cultural Development Committee recently presented Nelson couple Frances Welwood, BA’64, BLS’66, and Ron Welwood, BA’66, BLS’67, with a special citation in recognition of their lifetime work preserving, documenting and promoting Nelson’s history.
Ron sat on the city’s heritage committee for almost 20 years, wrote numerous articles on Nelson for British Columbia History, and compiled three brochures to help facilitate self‑guided tours around the city: Walking; Motoring; and Cemetery.
After arriving in Nelson in 1969, Ron became immersed in the area’s storied past. As librarian at Notre Dame University of Nelson and David Thompson University, he realized that print and non‑print resources on the region were not being collected and preserved in a central location. Taking it upon himself, he began to amass a collection of “Kootenaiana.”
When David Thompson University closed in 1984, this inventory was transferred to the Nelson Public Library and the Nelson Museum Historical Society, and Ron continued to collect as the librarian at Selkirk College from 1984 to 2000. Still accessible, these collections continue to be a valuable resource for researchers.
Frances was on the board of directors of the Nelson and District Museum, Archives, Art Gallery and Historical Society (Touchstones Nelson Museum) for over 20 years, and is an accomplished historian, writing many articles for British Columbia History and local news media.
In the early 1990s, she began to research the life of Annie Garland Foster for a Nelson Museum exhibition. An early graduate of the University of New Brunswick, Garland Foster was the first woman elected to Nelson City Council in 1920. Frances spent nearly two decades painstakingly researching and gathering details of this enigmatic woman’s life, publishing a full‑length biography of Garland Foster, Passing Through Missing Pages, in 2011.
Both Ron and Frances are active volunteers, leading walking tours that showcase Nelson’s history to both locals and visitors. For almost 30 years, they have regularly attended the British Columbia Historical Federation conferences as Touchstones delegates, enthusiastically promoting the city and its vibrant culture and history.