VALASKAKIS, Gail Guthrie



Please note: Speeches appear in the language in which they were delivered.

Mme. Le Chancelier, Mr. Le Président et Vice-Chancelier, Honorables invités, membres de la Faculté et membres du personnel, diplômé(e)s, parents et toutes celles et tous ceux qui ont contribué et ont aidé au succès de ces étudiants, je me sens privilégiée d’être parmi vous aujourd’hui.  It is humbling to receive this honour on behalf of so many other who have worked to establish Aboriginal education, research. media and social services in Canada.  It is inspiring to recognize the mission and achievements of the University of Ottawa.  It is energizing to celebrate this important day with you, the graduating students.

Ëtre diplômé(e) de l’Université d’Ottawa aujourd’hui marque une étape importante dans votre cheminement de vie. Through your years of study here, you have become part of the tradition of an exceptional university, a university that has long understood that, like the social histories of our past, our individual and collective futures are intertwined.

Cette croyance dans la nature fondamentale du multiculturalisme du Canada est articulée dans la formation nationale non seulement dans sa Vision pour 2010, mais également dans la vie académique et sociale de l’Université tous les jours. L’Université d’Ottawa a soutenu différentes cultures et langues, différentes valeurs et croyances, différents points de vue.  The knowledge and experience you have gained in this place mean that you, like me, will always live on a border. You will occupy a social space in which cultures and languages intersect.

But borders can also be bridges.  Your experiences here have prepared you to be a bridge between the differing social, cultural and linguistic realities of Canadians: French and English, Aboriginal and multicultural.  You will play a role in building or denying the policies, programs and institutions that will either widen our disparities or navigate our differences.  You will negotiate the conditions of our future for the next seven generations.
In my Ojibway heritage, tradition tell us about the Prophesy of the Seventh Generation.  Il y a différentes versions de cette prédiction, de cette prophétie, mais tous les récits parlent de relations et de responsabilités.  We are told that the decisions we make today will impact the next seven generations that follow us.   And some Elders also tell us that the Seventh Generation will lead us to a peaceful era of shared ideology and the kinship of a new relationship among all nations and cultures.

We are the Seventh Generation; and we are all related. I thank you–and those who will continue the work of the University of Ottawa–for  the contributions you will make to our collective future.

Meegwetch.  Merci.

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