Baroness May Man-Yue Sun de Nerciat
Doctor of Civil Law
Born in Shanghai, China, Mary moved to Hongkong to escape the civil war which led to the creation of the Peoples Republic of China (P.R.C.) in 1949. In Hongkong she was educated at St. Paul's Convent School prior to entering the University of Hongkong where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with First Class Honours (1961) as well as a Master of Arts in History (1963). Five years later, she was awarded a doctoral degree from the University of London. She also earned a Certificat de langue francaise from the Sorbonne University in Paris (1985-87). She speaks English, French, and Chinese (Mandarin, Cantonese, Shanghai dialects).
Mary has indicated that, once she received her Ph.D., she followed three major and very distinct career paths.
The first was her most successful teaching career which began in 1966 at Dartmouth College, New Hampshire, followed the next year at the University of Toronto, prior to reaching Saint Mary's University where she had an outstanding career from 1968 to 1985, both as a professor and an innovative administrator. For example, from 1971-79 she was the founder and first chairperson of the Asian Studies Programme. As described by Mary herself this is ?a multi-disciplinary approach to the study of an important part of the world. It was a first in the Maritimes. The programme included history, political science, religious studies, trade and commerce, languages'. This legacy together with her vital role in the founding of the Canadian-Chinese Language and Cultural Centre (CCLCC) in which Saint Mary's was the lead institution, positioned the University in China, and as Dr. Dodds has remarked, the rest is history.
It was during this phase of her career that she was extremely busy outside the University with national professional activities as well as such community ones as being the resident commentator on China for CBC radio and television; a resource person to the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission; and a guest lecturer at service clubs, community and ethnic groups; and teachers, and students, organizations.
Her second career path began as early as 1979 when she was seconded by the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs to serve as a sinologist in the Canadian Embassy in China for two years (1979-81). Then from 1982-84, she served as the Director of the Canada/China Language and Cultural Project in Beijing, China with a budget of $8 million. Thus began her diplomatic career with postings for the Canadian International Development Agency (C.I.D.A.) in China, Vietnam (1984-85), Thailand 1989-94) and lastly for the Department of Foreign Affairs in Paris (1996). At this juncture, Mary opted to leave the diplomatic service and to follow a new and very different career. This was the directorship of a French fashion company, Maud Frizon which sells high fashion shoes.
She is now retired due to the ill health of her husband.