IMAD, Elarbi

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Discours

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Chancellor
Recteur
Corps professoral
Etudiantes
Etudiants


It is a great honor to stand here before you on such an important day and an even greater honor to be recognized by your university with an Honorary Doctorate. In truth, it is hard to express my feelings of gratitude on such an occasion when so many are celebrating such great achievements. As I look out over this assembly I see many faces each with their own stories of how you have reached this moment.


Si votre Université peut être fière de s’affirmer comme la plus grande université bilingue du monde, elle peut l’être encore plus d’être l’université du multiculturalisme, de l’ouverture sur l’Autre, sur tous les Autres, l’origine diversifiée et les profils riches de vos étudiants en sont la preuve éclatante et la présence de mon humble personne aujourd’hui parmi vous, en est un témoignage édifiant. En effet, je viens d’un pays, le Maroc, lointain certes, séparé de vous par quelques 5000 kilomètres mais qui est en même temps là juste en face de chez vous de l’autre côté de l’Atlantique. This relationship between Canada and Morocco is not only in one direction. You may not know it but more than 100,000 Moroccans have immigrated to Canada (despite the winter) and we Moroccans are the largest North African community in this country. In addition, every year, nearly 3,000 young Moroccans come to study in Canadian colleges and universities which further increases the ties between our countries. We hope that through our partnership with Ottawa University someday we can have as many students come to study in Morocco and further strengthen the ties between our countries!


And as a Moroccan I feel almost at home here in Ottawa. Our countries have a 50 year history of good relations and as members of La Francophonie we can communicate like greeting each other across our balconies. Je suis d’origine arabo- berbère, I speak Moroccan Arabic but I learned classical Arabic and French at school and I have taught English at the university, so we may speak together in whatever language you prefer. Having this ability has enabled me to have friends and colleagues from all races and beliefs across 80 countries. I am lucky to have made these friends and have learned from them that we share human values that are deeply rooted in our minds and revealed in our respective behaviours.


Des amis dont le visage d’une personne d’entre eux ressurgit avec insistance, à l’instant, dans mon esprit et dans mon coeur : j’ai nommé Monsieur Alan Rock, Recteur de l’Université d’Ottawa, qui a conçu, couvé et mis sur le chemin de l’épanouissement le projet de coopération entre le Maroc et Canada, l’Université d’Ottawa et notre Centre marocain d’éducation civique. In fact, during his visit to Morocco, with the great team and great Dean of the Faculty of Education, President Alan Rock shared this same perspective when he spoke to Moroccans about universal and shared values and how education and training play a vital role in building healthy communities. On behalf of the Moroccan Center for Civic Education, I would like to extend my warm thanks and gratitude to President Rock for both his words and his deeds that demonstrate he truly believes in them.


So while today is a special day for me, I recognize that it is also an important day for all of you too. I would like to congratulate all the graduates once again on your success and hope you will be able to join us in promoting the civic engagement, not only in Canada but all over the world. As future leaders, I have no doubt that you will be working hard on disseminating the values of peace, democracy, human rights, good governance, ethics, tolerance and mutual understanding.


Je viens d’un pays à la diversité culturelle affirmée : le Maroc aux multiples fibres arabo-islamique, amazighe et saharo-sahélienne, riche de ses affluents africain, andalou, hébraïque et méditerranéen, d’une ville au cosmopolitisme confirmé : Casablanca, et d’un quartier historique, pauvre mais digne, nécessiteux mais solidaire: Hay Mohammadi, foyer de la lutte nationale pour l’indépendance et vivier d’artistes aux facettes multiples. Mon adolescence fut ainsi bercée par les mélopées de Nass El Ghiwane groupe musical mythique des années 1970, aux paroles engagées et poétiques reflétant les malaises de notre société.


For me it was the voice of my country, Morocco, looking for the right way towards more justice and dignity. Through their songs and poems, I was able to discover the notions of injustice, sacrifice, sense of belonging, pride, democracy, human rights and human shared values. The values that I totally advocate and that I am sure you will share as well. One real indicator is that you have worked very hard to reach today’s huge accomplishment supported by your excellent professors, hardworking administrators, dedicated staff members and supportive parents, families and friends who I would like to thank today. Students – let’s give them a hand for their love and support (Applaud). Each of you should be proud of your accomplishments too because you have enhanced your intellectual abilities. The work you have done can never be taken away from you because you have improved yourself. But this is only the beginning of a long journey and as you take your first step into the future, you should throw away the store bought - map you have been given and instead, begin to draw your own road map. The future holds great opportunities for those of you who will seek your
own path and become real leaders of the world. To be here at this moment when you begin this journey is why I am most honoured to be among you today.


Je suis profondément touché lorsque nous percevons, mes collègues et moi, à chaque fois chez nos interlocuteurs, la même affirmation soutenue d’un engagement conscient au service de valeurs humaines, découvertes par les uns , retrouvées par les autres mais partagées par tous.


Thanks to this spirit, and with optimism, the Moroccan Center for Civic Education has assumed our mission to “Train and educate younger generations to be active, effective and responsible citizens committed to democratic principles”. We have been able to set up a network of partners in Morocco and across the world such as the University of Ottawa, the Middle East Partnership Initiative, the United Nations Democracy Fund, Euroclio, Maryville University of St. Louis, the British Council, the Center for Civic Education, just to name a few.


Supported by the University of Ottawa, we have been able to develop the Moroccan Canadian Initiative for Education and Training through which we have organised a number of training workshops and conferences for the benefit of educators, school leaders and administrators. We also have the support of the Moroccan Ministry of Education and the Higher Council for Education, an advisory board to HM the King of Morocco who is convinced of the fact that (Je cite) « l'école est appelée, plus que toute autre structure, à s'ouvrir en permanence sur son environnement, en adoptant une approche pédagogique qui place la société au centre de ses préoccupations » pour qu'« elle puisse assumer cette mission de manière optimale, il faut que les programmes et les supports didactiques puissent intégrer, de façon simplifiée, innovante et moderne, les concepts et les règles liés au comportement civique »


Nous y apportons modestement contribution. Une contribution que nous voulons, fortement ancrée, complètement engagée et pleinement assumée dans un monde en pleine mutation où notre région vit un printemps Arabe où se mêlent toutes les saisons certes, mais où la rose et l’olivier, foncièrement têtus, arrivent à survivre malgré les contingences de natures variées. Grâce à sa capacité de résilience, la pousse prometteuse arrive toujours à percer à travers les cendres de la désolation, de l’intolérance et de l’incompréhension. Thus the collaboration with the University of Ottawa and others fits well with something that His Excellency the Right Honorable David Johnston said recently when he spoke about “a true democracy of knowledge.” He said that, “To democratize something is to make it accessible to everyone. A democracy of knowledge, therefore, deepens and broadens knowledge so that it’s available to all citizens in a given society and, beyond them, to all societies throughout the world.” I am filled with hope that you, as future leaders, will join in this democracy of knowledge. You are so enthusiastic and have not only the courage but also the interest to serve your communities and sustain democracy in order to make a difference. The University of Ottawa has equipped you with 21st Century skills and sustainable leadership to make you the agents of change and you will play a crucial role in shaping societies not only in Canada or Morocco but all over the world. This world has truly become a global village and has made whatever happens in Ottawa important to Casablanca and vice versa. Since we cannot escape each other we must embrace each other - in fellowship and understanding.


En tant que membre actif de la société civile, notre Centre, face aux préoccupations qui sont actuellement les nôtres et grâce au support pérenne de ses amis, peut et doit jouer un rôle majeur dans l’ancrage et la consolidation des valeurs de justice, de compréhension, d’ouverture, de respect de l’autre et de démocratie pour pouvoir servir nos sociétés car as Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said: « Societies move forward when citizens are empowered to transform common interests into common actions that serve the common good. »


Avec l’honneur que vous faites aujourd’hui à ma modeste personne, notre responsabilité n’en est que plus accrue, et notre engagement sur cette voie n’en est que plus ferme. Merci d’avoir accru encore plus notre souci de perfection, notre désir de vaincre les obstacles et notre volonté de réussir notre mission.


I also want to express my sincere thanks to the University of Ottawa for this great distinction. I am humbled by your praise and truly honored by your recognition.


Merci beaucoup/ Thank you very much

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