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Burris Devanney

Doctor of Civil Law

A native Haligonian, Burris Devanney, attended public school in Halifax, graduating from Saint Patrick's High School in 1957. He then moved on to Saint Mary's University on a Knights of Columbus Scholarship; played on the University Football Team, which won the Maritime Junior (under 21) championship three years in a row; and graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree with a double major in English and Philosophy in 1958. The next year he was at Dalhousie University, where he also played football in the first Dalhousie/Saint Mary's Football game at the Wanderer's Grounds in September 1959. He graduated from Dalhousie with a Bachelor of Education degree in 1960. His other formal education included a Masters of Arts degree in English from the University of Ottawa in 1972 and the completion of the course requirements for a doctorate in English Literature at the University of Ottawa.

His teaching career began at Saint Patrick's High School where he also coached the high school football team for five years. In June 1965, he married Louanne Webb and they went off to Africa together for two years, having contracts in Rodesia and Nigeria. From 1967, until his retirement from the Halifax School Board in 1994 he worked not only at Saint Patrick's High School but also at Halifax West and more latterly, J.L. Ilsley High School. As soon as he retired, he was appointed Executive Director of The Nova Scotia Gambia Association which he and his wife helped to found in the mid-80's. This has grown over the years to have a nation-wide impact in The Gambia, West Africa.

Since retirement from the school board, Burris and his wife have been dividing their time between Halifax and Banjul in the Gambia where he was instrumental in the establishment of the Saint Mary's University's Extension Program; a peer health education program; and more recently, a working partnership between the Halifax Regional Police Service and The Gambia Police force.

He has co-authored two curriculum resource books used in the Canadian public school system and was the co-producer/editor of a 105 minute video production entitled The Gambia Project, which won the Award of Excellence for Documentaries at the Atlantic Film Festival in 1987.

His varied working career has resulted in a number of significant awards being bestowed on him, including the Louis Perinbam Award in International Development in 2003; the Order of the Republic of The Gambia in 2000; the Distinguished Community Service Award of Saint Mary's University?s Alumni Association for professional and voluntary endeavors, in Canada and abroad, in 1999; the UNAC Halifax 50th Anniversary Global Citizenship Award in 1995; and was also made a ?Paul Harris Fellow? by the Rotary Foundation and Rotary International in appreciation of tangible and significant assistance given for the furtherance of better understanding and friendly relationship among people of the world in 1998.

He and his wife have two children ? Sarah, a graduate of Saint Mary's University in 1994 with a Bachelor of Education degree, who is currently teaching in the Teaching English as a Second Language Centre at Saint Mary's University; and Matthew, who graduated from Saint Mary's University with a Bachelor of Arts (Honors in History) in 1992. He taught a History course at the Saint Mary's University Extension Program in The Gambia in the year 2000 and has been both teaching History and serving as department head of social studies at Marina International School in The Gambia for the past four years.