Convocation Addresses -- Fuller, Rix, Lewis

June 10, 2004, vol. 30, no. 4

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Janine Fuller, Don Rix, Stephen Lewis, Lynn Smith, Daryl Duke, Nancy Greene Raine and Marco Marra were presented with honorary degrees at the June convocation.

Janine Fuller

Free speech is something that needs to be nurtured.

This is an incredible honour and not one that I ever expected to find myself in as someone who never actually got a university degree or actually never really graduated from high school.

I'm also very honoured to have my friends in the audience, a small group of people with all black shoes, and my family, my brother and my father are here from Toronto. Nothing happens in a vacuum as everyone here knows, everyone who is out there who is part of our families. All of the achievements, everything we do is part of our friendships, is part of our families.

Working at Little Sisters, and certainly working with Jim and Bruce and Mark at Little Sisters, and everyone who is part of the Little Sisters team - old and new - have been tremendously important people to meet.

And I don't stand at this platform without them and so many other people. Free speech does not come in this country without a lot of people working and B.C. Civil Liberties Association has been a tremendous supporter of our court case. But free speech is something that needs to be nurtured and it's something that we, as all Canadians, can never take for granted. It is something that we can't just assume - just because one group of people has their liberties that other people's liberties aren't in jeopardy.

Until all people have the kind of free speech and the kind of visibility to be part of this world and in this world I think we all have to commit ourselves today, at this moment, to that struggle and to those people.

See full text at Janine Fuller

Don Rix

Volunteerism is the cornerstone of our society.

Although I am being recognized for my community involvement, I must admit, I feel that I have received far more from my activities than I have given.

I have always enjoyed being involved in the community, as I am sure my wife can testify from my many meetings. But some of my best experiences in life and some of my lifelong friends have come from outside my medical and business life.

That's why today, I am going to briefly talk to you about what I believe to be the cornerstone of our society - volunteerism.

I am sure many of you have volunteered in the past, or are currently, and I urge you never to stop. It is all too common to get wrapped up in our busy lives and be unable to see outside our own little world.

I encourage you to step outside every now and then and consider what you might be able to do, to positively impact someone else's life. You may decide to volunteer at a favourite charity - remember you now have, through your studies, many skills that a charity can use, or you may participate in an annual fundraising run in support of a cure for a serious illness, or you may think farther afield and wish to volunteer to work with the United Nations, say in Africa. Whatever you choose - your commitment to our community and our country, will make it a better place for all of us.

In my early days as a family doctor, I volunteered at a Salvation Army clinic one night a week in the Downtown Eastside. It was another world.
Forty years later and I can still remember some of those people and the satisfaction I felt in helping them physically and emotionally.

See full text at Don Rix

Stephen Lewis

The preoccupation internationally with war and security always seems to exclude an equivalent preoccupation with the human condition, with the human imperative, with the human priorities.

I note for you and with you, that everyone from Colin Powell, the Secretary of State of the United States right through to recent commissions of the European Union have said explicitly that the greatest single threat facing the planet today is the pandemic of HIV and AIDS and everything diminishes in its presence.

I've spent three years now in the envoy role for the United Nations wandering through a continent I love - the continent of Africa - and I have to tell you that nothing in my adult life, despite what you heard, prepared me for the pervasiveness of death and the way in which the death spiral is occurring in all those quite wonderful countries. The people who were infected in the late 1980s and early 1990s are now dying in hallucinatory numbers. . . .

There's no need for any of this, none of it. Africa knows how to do treatment and prevention and care and support. What Africa requires are the resources from the international community which for whatever morally abysmal reason the western world has refused to provide.
Africa needs treatment from generic drugs which Canada may, thank God, now be in a position to provide.

If I may be so bold, Africa needs you and I beg you, think of taking a chunk of your lives - one month, three months, six months, one year - and devoting it to a part of the world where compassion and decency are desperately required realities; where you can bring, through your knowledge and the extraordinary learning you've absorbed over the last several years, not simply help for the private sector where, believe me, they need you, but help in the broader human terms, where human adversity in one continent is responded to deeply and thoughtfully by Canadians.

See full text at Stephen Lewis

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