WESTEINDE, Shirley

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Discours

Veuillez noter que les discours sont publiés dans la langue dans laquelle ils ont été présentés.

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Good afternoon, bonjour, and let me start by saying what an honour it is for me to receive this Honorary Doctorate from such a prestigious University, and to have an opportunity to share a little portion of our life’s journey together today.

Vous devriez être fiers de recevoir un diplôme en génie ou en informatique de cette université. Vous avez eu cette occasion unique d’obtenir votre diplôme dans une université bilingue.

Ceux et celles qui ont obtenu la bague d'ingénieur doivent être fiers de l'héritage de connaissances que cette bague représente. Portez-la fièrement!

Et les connaissances que vous avez acquises constituent un trésor inestimable que vous pourrez facilement conserver avec vous tout au long de votre voyage de vie. J’espère que vous continuerez d’ajouter à votre trésor de connaissances. Comme le disait si bien Charles William Eliot : « Les livres sont nos amis les plus tranquilles et les plus fidèles; ils sont nos conseillers les plus accessibles et les plus sages, et les éducateurs les plus patients. »

Je comprends qu’à l’heure actuelle la première priorité pour la plupart d’entre vous est de vous trouver un emploi, et peut-être de rembourser des dettes. Mais n’oubliez pas que, pour survivre et vivre votre vie avec succès et pour atteindre vos objectifs et réaliser vos rêves, vous devrez vous prémunir de courage et prendre des risques. Mais apprenez de la tortue qui ne fait des progrès que lorsqu’elle s’étire le cou pour sortir de sa carapace.

When I graduated from high school in 1959, I wanted to go to university but my father felt that an education for a woman was a waste of money since, as was traditional back then, the assumption was that I would just get married, have children, stay at home, and never enter the work force.

Back then the apparent three options that were available to women who wanted to pursue their education were nursing, teaching or secretarial courses. I had a thirst to learn new things and so, much to my father’s dismay, I decided to take the three-year nursing course instead of the one-year teacher’s course, because I felt the opportunities to explore a whole new world of medicine and science were exciting.

At the completion of my three-year nurse’s training, I was made aware of a bursary program provided by the Victorian Order of Nurses to pursue post-graduate studies in Public Health. I applied and received the bursary and with this $1000 bursary and the money I had earned in the Reserve Navy over my three years of nurse’s training, I was finally able to attend university.

In 1963 at the University of Western Ontario, the faculty of nursing was composed of 100% female students, and although there were a few women in some of the other faculties, they were definitely a minority. I was aware of two women who had gone into medicine that year and I thought that was truly awesome. At that time there were no women in the law or engineering faculties.

Que de changements importants se sont opérés au cours de ma génération! Là où autrefois les hommes dominaient, on constate désormais que les femmes sont en majorité.

Les femmes comptaient pour 57 p. 100 de tous les étudiants universitaires à l’automne de 2001. Il y avait 75 000 femmes de plus que d’hommes inscrites dans les programmes d’études de premier cycle à temps plein, et autant de femmes que d’hommes dans les programmes d’études supérieures à temps plein.

Dans le domaine du droit où autrefois les hommes étaient sept fois plus nombreux que les femmes, les femmes représentent maintenant 55 p. 100 des diplômés. En médecine vétérinaire où les hommes représentaient 90 p. 100 des étudiants, maintenant on compte deux fois plus de femmes diplômées que d’hommes.

However, engineering, science, physics and advanced math studies are still very much under-represented by women. At the college and graduate level women are earning only 28% of bachelor’s degrees in physics, calculus, engineering and mathematics and only 9% of doctorates in engineering. Women make up only 10% of mathematicians, 6% of computer scientists, and 4% of engineers.

Hopefully with the help of many programs that are being instituted to encourage women into the sciences and mathematics in the next few years, we will see an improvement in these statistics. I must say that one of the most incredible role models I have ever met for women who are contemplating the world of engineering is your Dean Tyseer Aboulnasr. She is a remarkable woman who has had an incredible journey to date, and I have no doubt will make many more contributions in the next phase of her life’s journey.

In my case I completed my studies in Public Health and then proceeded to fulfill one of the requisites for receiving the VON bursary, and that was to accept a posting wherever a VON nurse’s services were required. I received a letter from the National Office of the VON informing me that I was going to be the Nurse in Charge of a branch of the Victorian Order of Nurses in St. Thomas Ontario. I of course assumed that there was an error in this transmission, since it seemed impossible that a new graduate could be the Nurse in Charge.

When I contacted the head office, I was informed that indeed the correspondence was correct and I was the Nurse in Charge of a one nurse branch. In retrospect I ran my own business, since I was responsible for all of the patient planning, the banking and reporting to a Board of Directors. However a few years later, just as my Dad had predicted, I got married to a man who wears an iron ring. We started a family and assumed I would stay at home and raise our children.

I stayed at home for 12 years and raised what I consider to be three great children. One son and a daughter have an engineering degree and one of our daughters-in-law is a civil engineer, so iron rings are quite prevalent in our family. Our children in turn have blessed us with 7 almost 8 wonderful grandchildren. And I have to tell you that I still consider being a Mom the most important role of my life.

Mais ma vie a changé radicalement en 1978 lorsque mon mari, qui a toujours travaillé dans l’industrie de la construction, est arrivé à la maison un jour et m’a informée qu’il avait quitté son emploi et qu’il ne voulait plus jamais travailler pour qui que ce soit.

Ce fut donc le début de ma carrière dans l’industrie de la construction. Nous avons travaillé à partir de notre domicile pendant trois ans et j’ai décidé que, même si mon entrée dans l’industrie de la construction n’était pas une aventure prévue dans mon plan de carrière, je devais grandir là où j’avais choisi d’établir mes racines.

Quelquefois, la vie nous fait affronter des obstacles qui surviennent, et par la force des choses, nous fait changer notre cheminement et l’on se doit de continuer à grandir.

J’ai donc commencé à suivre des cours au collège et à l’université qui m’aideraient à mieux comprendre les rouages d’une entreprise. Mon mari a été mon mentor et il m’a grandement aidée au fil des ans à parfaire mes connaissances du monde incroyable de la construction.

Over the years, I have learned to treat my own personal challenges and fears as “opportunities with work clothes on”. I have found that as you go through life, you may not be able to direct the wind, but you can adjust your sails.

I’ve adjusted my sails many times over the years, as I continued on my path of learning, and I must add that I’m still attending school, taking French courses, and I am determined to some day be as comfortable giving a speech in French as in English.

Since 1978, our Construction Company has grown from two employees, operating out of our home with a volume of $200,000, to approximately 80 employees and a volume of $100 million.

We now call ourselves the Westeinde Group of Companies, with companies specializing in different areas of development, construction, design/build and property management. Our two sons are now in our business and shifting our sails into a new direction of “green building” design and sustainable development. Their passion is the environment and the environmental aspects of construction, and the next phase of our journey involves stepping down and allowing them to pursue their passion.

In March I was elected the first female Chair of the Canadian Construction Association. I consider this to be my retirement job, as I will literally be on the road a good part of the year, promoting the construction industry to young people and lobbying the government for programs that will ensure the growth and stability of our industry by providing training and opportunities to our young people.

I intend to utilize the fact that I am the first female Chair to hopefully assist in improving the statistics for women in engineering and the trades. A few weeks ago, I participated in a “Women in Construction” night in Calgary. There were close to 600 people in attendance and a good percentage of them were young high school females accompanied by their teachers. It was an opportunity to profile a number of women in the Calgary area who are working in the construction industry and give then an opportunity to tell their story. During my year as Chair of CCA, I hope to do similar events across the country.

Durant les 26 dernières années, notre entreprise de construction a bâti plusieurs écoles, hôpitaux et immeubles à bureaux. Ces établissements laisseront toujours un héritage au profil de la ville d’Ottawa et de bien d’autres villes où l’on a construit, mais nous avons aussi participé à de nombreuses activités qui ont contribué à « bâtir notre collectivité ».

Grâce à ma participation active au sein de la communauté, je suis très consciente de l’importance d’encourager nos futurs « bâtisseurs de collectivités », afin d’assurer le bien-être et la croissance de nos communautés. J’espère que vous aussi saurez donner à votre collectivité, car vous êtes les futurs leaders de cette collectivité ou de toute collectivité où vous choisirez de vous établir.

As your journey evolves, follow your passion and take pride in what you do, give back to your community and always be more concerned with your character than your reputation, “because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are."

In closing I would like to share a thought with you that I frequently share with my grandchildren.

Suppose tomorrow they call you from a lottery or a bank and say you have won $86,400 to be deposited every day in your bank account. However part of the proposal is that you must spend every cent, every day and whatever you don’t spend that day you lose. It literally reverts back to 0 at midnight.

What would you do? I think you would probably spend it.

Well in fact, that does happen to all of us every day. Every day we are given 86,400 seconds. Every night we lose whatever time we have not used in a productive and useful way. If you fail to use this time well, it is lost forever.

Je vous félicite donc en ce jour de votre collation des grades. Je souhaite à chacun et chacune d’entre vous beaucoup de succès dans vos projets d’avenir alors que vous consacrerez votre temps à gagner votre vie, mais je vous souhaite encore plus de succès alors que vous consacrerez votre précieux temps à bâtir l’âme de votre collectivité.

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