Gloria Borden

Saint Mary’s recognizes two outstanding Canadians with honorary degrees


Fall Convocation

September 27-28

Saint Mary’s University will recognize the accomplishments of two outstanding Canadians with honorary degrees at this year’s fall convocation ceremony.

“Honorary degrees celebrate individuals whose accomplishments are an inspiration to our students and people who are exemplars for our entire community,” said Saint Mary’s President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Robert Summerby-Murray. “I am proud to bestow this honour to Gloria and John for their leadership, and the way in which they embody a key value of our institution, keeping community at the heart of all that we do.” 

The university is pleased to recognize the extraordinary achievements of:

  • Gloria Borden, a trailblazer and champion for the arts. One of 18 children raised in New Glasgow, from a young age Borden grew to cherish music, community, sports and boxing. All of these interests represent areas in which she would excel. Borden was the first Black hematology specialist in Canada and participated in research related to the field. Borden was also the first female boxing promoter in Canada and was inducted into the Pictou County Sports Heritage Hall of Fame for her time as a student-athlete. In music, she has been involved in numerous productions and produced the acclaimed God’s Trombones and founded the Nova Scotia Mass Choir.

  • John A. Young, Q.C., a community builder and legal advocate. Born in Saint John, New Brunswick, Young’s interest in commerce and law led him to pursue post-secondary degrees in both those fields in Halifax and England. After a time spent working on Parliament Hill, he joined three other young lawyers starting a small law firm in Halifax. Young became an important part the firm’s growth from four lawyers to the fourth-largest firm in Atlantic Canada. Young has balanced the needs of a growing law firm with his commitment to community service and volunteerism throughout his career.

The honorary degree recipients will receive their degrees at convocation on Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019.

Honorary Degree: Gloria Borden

Gloria Borden
Trailblazer and champion for the arts

Gloria Borden

Gloria Borden

Gloria Borden grew up as one of 18 children in New Glasglow, Nova Scotia. From a young age, Borden grew to cherish music, community, sports and boxing. After years of success as a student-athlete, Borden would leave New Glasgow for Halifax. 

In 1958, she joined the staff at the Victoria General Hospital as an assistant lab technologist, a position she held while she raised two sons. She would become the first Black hematology specialist in Canada. During this time, she researched a series of tests related to lymphomas that could be used as indicators on patients in or out of remission. Under the direction of Dr. O.A. Hayne, she would go on to have an abstract article published in the New England Journal of Medicine 1987. 

With a successful career in healthcare, Borden also dedicated time to the sport she grew up loving, boxing. In 1970, she founded the Halifax Recreational Amateur Boxing Club. In 1971, Borden became the first female boxing promoter in Canada. She would go on to manage and help train 150 amateur boxers, four of which went on to participate in the 1976 Olympics in Montreal. While she was a successful boxing promoter, it was Borden’s time as a student-athlete in New Glasgow that led to her induction into the Pictou County Sports Heritage Hall of Fame. 

Borden also excelled as a music producer. In 1989, she produced the acclaimed God’s Trombones. She founded the internationally-known Nova Scotia Mass Choir in 1991. Borden produced the first international gospel festival in North America in 1992. She went on to be the founder and President of the Kangee Production Society and the Managing Director of the Jongleur Intensive Performing Arts Academy, the Jeri Brown Touring Youth Choir and the Jeri Brown Theatre Company. She was also a board member for the Charles Taylor Hall Society in 2010. 

Borden is currently looking forward to the next project she plans to produce: a play telling the story of Black Nova Scotia from 1783 to 2010.