Astronaut Roberta Bondar honoured with CBU degree
As the first Canadian woman in space, you might think Roberta Bondar has seen it all.
But receiving an honourary Doctor of Letters degree from Cape Breton University, in the same place as the first powered flight on Earth, was a special moment for Bondar.
"It inspires me because I see all the individuals that are involved in the education process. People who have come through CBU, for example, and they're infusing their curiosity and excitement and energy back into society," says Bondar.
Bondar is best known as Canada's first female astronaut. She flew on the space shuttle 'Discovery' in 1992, also becoming the first neuroscientist ever in space.
While Bondar is an inspiration to generations of women, she says it was an honour to receive her degree at the Bell Museum in Baddeck, N.S., given that one of her biggest female role models is Mabel Bell.
"The kinds of things she stood for, and the kinds of things she tried to do. In terms of art, science, technology, business, and those are all facets of my life as well, so that's kind of a neat connection," explains Bondar.
When asked what she remembers most about her eight days away from the earth, Bondar says the answer is easy; seeing our planet from a distance.
"Actually seeing it as a planet in real time, that emotional experience of the reality of the Earth as a planet is something that will stay with me forever. That has to be the single most important thing that I gained in the whole of space training and space flight,”
For all of her amazing accomplishments in her 71 years, Bondar says one of the things she is most proud of, is paving the way for other women.
"I look at myself as being a cheerleader for women, and a role model for men, so that men see me do these things, so they know women can do them," says Bondar.
Bondar says in the quarter-century since she went into space, she has seen a lot more acceptance of women, both in the sciences and in general. But she still feels there is a way to go.
While today's honour was a special one for her, it is tough to top something that so few other humans have ever experienced.
"It's very difficult to be able to prepare yourself to say, 'My Goodness, it is a planet, they were right, and look at it glowing! Look at the black of space surrounding it! And all the stars that don't twinkle!' It's that 'Oh My Goodness' moment," explains Bondar.
But for today, the focus was on her latest honour, in a life that has truly been 'out of this world'.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Ryan MacDonald.