Nearly 3,000 Parliamentary heavyweights, policy makers and political boosters gathered in Halifax this past weekend, many with an eye on electoral competitions that lie ahead.
But what Dal President Richard Florizone wanted to speak with them about wasn’t competition, but collaboration.
“When we can come together in new ways and find common ground, look what we can do together,” Dr. Florizone told delegates Friday morning (April 20) at the 2018 Liberal Party National Convention.
Dr. Florizone was invited, in his capacity as Dalhousie president, to deliver a featured keynote at the convention — an opportunity to share with politicians and party members a taste of what’s happening in higher education in Atlantic Canada and how it ties into a broader vision for the region and, indeed, the country.
“As incredible as you find our music, our culture, our food and our landscape,” he said, speaking to the experiences delegates may be having as visitors to the region, “it might surprise you that there is another exciting story about Atlantic Canada. It’s a story about our people, our knowledge and partnership, and about our shared potential to build a country that is more intelligent, more inclusive and more inspiring.”
Nurturing our region’s talent
He began by talking about talent. He highlighted Rhodes Scholar and Dal Nursing grad Maike van Niekerk, whose success as a student is rivaled by her inspiring charity efforts raising funds to cover transportation costs for cancer patients. He also spoke about Dal’s most recent Rhodes Scholar, Engineering co-op student and author Nayani Jensen.
“There’s no shortage of exceptional talent in our region and in our country. We just have believe in it, and we have to nurture it. As Maike and Nayani and their peers demonstrate, we have incredible young Atlantic Canadians with creativity, with compassion, with courage, and with talent that places them among the very best in the world.”
Part of that nurturing involves having the institutions, teachers and researchers to foster knowledge and talent. Dr. Florizone discussed how Dal prof Jeff Dahn’s groundbreaking battery research brought Tesla to Atlantic Canada, as well as how other research collaborations in the region are fueling the next generation of partnerships and innovation to catalyze social and economic growth.
These include two major collaborations in which Dalhousie is a central player: the Ocean Frontier Institute and the Ocean Supercluster. Together, these partnerships represent over $500 million in dedicated public and private dollars for Atlantic Canada, offering incredible new opportunities for advancing Canada’s ocean science and technology sector.
“This ocean opportunity for Canada is very real and very significant,” said Dr. Florizone. “Canada has the world’s longest coastline, yet we get comparatively less economic benefit than other ocean nations.”
Bringing people together
Dr. Florizone also spoke of the importance of inclusion, and the responsibility universities have to help build institutions, and a country, where all feel they belong. He discussed efforts to address the 94 Calls to Action of the national Truth and Reconciliation Commission, in particular the work of Dal’s Chancellor’s Chair in Aboriginal Law and Policy Naomi Metallic (a chair funded by a donation from Dal Chancellor and former Deputy Prime Minister the Honourable Anne McLellan).
“We have so much more to do to build an inclusive university, region and country,” he said. “Yet by working alongside incredible people like Professor Naomi Metallic, one can’t help but feel excited and optimistic about our future together.”
He concluded his 20-minute address by discussing what’s possible when collaboration takes centre-stage: how we can reconcile the past and draw upon diverse strengths of all people; we can inspire creativity, courage and compassion; and we can bring together the best in the region with the best in the world, for the benefit of all.
“That’s the vision of the university. That’s the potential of our region. And that’s the dream of Canada.”
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