A high honour
By Amanda Pelham - March 25, 2010
Dalhousie's community includes a knight, former chancellor Sir Graham Day; a lord, our current namesake the Earl of Dalhousie Jamie Ramsay; and now a chevalier, Martha Crago, vice-president of research.
This observation was made by President Tom Traves following the ceremonial investiture of the Ordre des Palmes Académiques upon Dr. Crago by the Ambassador of France to Canada on March 24. His Excellency François Delattre recognized Dr. Crago's influential role in expanding a research program so that it could include researchers from outside of France and Quebec and for her continued commitment to the France-Canada Research Fund.
"And after all, Martha, who can resist you?" The diplomat smiled as he presented the violet-beribboned medal before a sizeable crowd of dignitaries, family and friends. He then kissed the recipient on both cheeks.
Speaking in her self-described "American-Quebecois French," Dr. Crago described a life-long fascination with the language and culture she first encountered as a child living in Vermont and listening to Radio Canada.
"I am just very grateful today that my well-loved 'other' language is French," she said. "The French culture unites people of diverse ethnicity, who live in different countries with different religions. This union is known as 'Francophonie.' Learning about the 'Francophonie' taught me a great lesson about humanity in all of its diversity."
The order was also conferred upon Isabelle Pédot, the Director of Alliance Française in Halifax, who was introduced by Iris Black, from Dalhousie's Department of French. The ceremony was hosted by Dr. Traves and guests included Gilles Courrègelongue, Consul-General of France for Moncton and Halifax; Neville Gilfoy, the Honourary Consul of France in Halifax, and representatives from government and the wider university community in Eastern Canada.
One of the oldest civil awards in existence, the decoration was first created by Napoleon to honour members of the French Imperial University. It was re-instituted in 1955 by René Coty, the President of France. Initially awarded only to French professors, it now pays homage to French nationals as well as foreigners who have made a significant contribution to the diffusion of the French culture around the world.
Prior to joining Dalhousie in 2008, Dr. Crago was Vice-Rector (International and Institutional Relations) at the University of Montreal, a vice-presidential position covering the university's international research activities and government relations. Previously, she served as a professor in the School of Communication Sciences and Disorders in the Faculty of Medicine at McGill University. Dr. Crago is internationally recognized for her research in psycholingusitics, including studying how children acquire the French language.