The awarding of an honorary degree to the CEO of Nestlé has many in and around Edmonton seeing red.

The University of Alberta recognized Peter Brabeck-Letmath, the head of one of the world's largest food and drink corporation, for his efforts in addressing future global water scarcity.

However, the honour isn't sitting well with protesters who suggest that the presentation shows support of the privatization and commodification of global water reserves.

U of A grad Lise Budreo, took part in Thursday's protest she said she was absolutely "mortified and appalled" by the move.

The backlash is not just from people in Edmonton, the Council of Canadians says there are over 70 organizations from around the world that are condemning the honorary degree. The group says Nestlé is notorious for unethical practices.

The university defended its decision saying Brabeck-Letmath is among those leading the way to create a vital conversation about the crucial resource even if he is a controversial figure.

University of Alberta President Indira Samarasekera said in an interview, "There are no corporations that will escape without having something that society considers egregious, the question is, how do you separate that from leadership when it's displayed."

Brabeck-Lethmath was one of three recipients of honorary degrees Thursday, all of who were being recognized for their contributions to global water challenges.

With files from Jessica Earle