Céline Dion receives honorary doctorate in Quebec City

Céline Dion blinked away the first of many tears in Quebec City Thursday when she was presented with an honourary doctorate from Université Laval that adds the title 'Dr. Dion' to her resumé.

Céline Dion blinked away the first of many tears in Quebec City Thursday when she was presented with an honorary doctorate from Université Laval that adds the title "Dr. Dion" to her resumé.

Singer Céline Dion, left, receives an award from Quebec City Mayor Régis Labeaume during a ceremony on Thursday. ((Clément Allard/Canadian Press))
Dion didn't sing a note during the award ceremony at the Palais Montcalm, but the pop megastar was effusive in her thanks for the degree, which university officials said was bestowed to salute her personal and professional achievements.

Dion told the 800 people present for the ceremony that the doctorate is "a very great honour for a little girl from Charlemagne."

But Dion, who never finished high school, also noted that "the school of life is also very important."

She told a news conference that the lesson she tries to teach her seven-year-old son René-Charles is "always give everything you've got."

"If there is something that has guided my life, it's my wish to excel and go farther, to the maximum of my abilities, to the top of my goals, my hopes and my dreams," she said.

Husband René Angélil said during the news conference that one of those hopes is to provide a sibling for René-Charles after the Taking Chances tour wraps up in 2009. 

Denis Brière, the rector of the university, described the singer as a "model" of  professionalism, determination and humanity.

Quebec City Mayor Régis Labeaume added his praise to the chorus and took relish in being the first to address the songbird from Charlemagne, Que., as "doctor."

While she thanked everyone from family to fans, Dion dedicated the degree to Angélil, who is also her manager, for the role he played in making her career a success.

The ceremony was held on the eve of Dion's free concert on the Plains of Abraham to celebrate the provincial capital's 400th birthday.

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Dion was also given a commemorative medal by the organizers of the year-long birthday celebration to thank her for her participation in the event.

Dion told the news conference that she is looking forward to singing Friday for the first time with Ginette Reno, one of the artists invited to the Quebec City concert.

Reno "has also had an international career," Dion said. 

In a statement released later on Thursday, Federal Heritage Minister Josée Verner offered her congratulations to Dion. 

"Céline Dion is a citizen of the world who promotes Canada wherever she goes," Verner said.

Dion's visit to Quebec City is a break from her worldwide Taking Chances tour, which marks her return to the road after a five-year gig in Las Vegas.