Doctor of Letters
Convocation address to the Faculty of Fine and Applied Arts June
you so much. It is an honour to share this evening with all the graduates who
have worked so hard for their own degrees.
it is an extraordinary privilege to receive this honorary doctorate of letters.
I am humbled by this and thought that right up until a few moments ago someone
would tap me on the shoulder and say, oops we made a mistake and called the
wrong Daphne Bramham.
all of us, I stand here because of the contributions and sacrifices of others.
were my four grandparents who left four different countries to come to Canada
in search of a better life for their children and their grandchildren.
generation and my parents’ generation sought to build a country where work is
rewarded, where opinions can be expressed freely and openly.
built schools and hospitals and a health-care system that means having a sick
child or a dying parent doesn’t financially ruin a family.
am indebted to the many women who helped clear a path for me, including five
women who 84 years ago won the judgment by Britain’s Privy Council that
Canadian women are indeed persons.
am also in thrall of my mother, who didn’t just tell me that lifelong learning
is important, she showed me.
did her homework beside my brother and me at the dining room table. She
completed her university degree one course at a time and graduated one semester
before me. She went on to be a school principal. And I am delighted she is here
live in a world where close to 775 million adults are illiterate. All of them
are poor. Two-thirds of them are women.
million children and teens can’t read, write or do basic arithmetic. Nearly
two-thirds of them are girls.
here, even in one of the most beautiful cities in the world in one of the
richest countries in the world, too many children arrive at school each day
hungry and without adequate clothes to wear.
summer in Rwanda, I met a group of woman who had just finished a basic literacy
and numeracy course. It had changed their lives.
of them no longer needs help putting the names and phone numbers of her friends
in her cellphone.
doesn’t have to ask for help reading street signs and is even helping her
daughter with homework.
another can now put the prices on the goods she sells in the market and ensure
that she gets paid what she’s owed.
education gives us more than that. It also allows us to aspire and dream of
something bigger or better or different.
visited MacDonald Elementary School recently; Children from Vancouver’s poorest
neighbourhood told me about their dreams of becoming computer programmers and
pilots and lawyers and teachers.
allows all of us to dare to dream. And with help, those macdonald students will
be able to attain those dreams.
say this to underscores just how privileged we are to be able to get an
is a day to be proud of what you have accomplished so far. It’s a time to
celebrate with friends and family. To thank them for supporting you and
tomorrow or the next day, we need to ask ourselves what now?
are the beneficiaries of others sacrifices. So what will we do with the challenges
and the privilege that we have?
many of you – maybe even most of you – it will mean looking for work at a time
when jobs aren’t easy to find.
may mean taking a job that isn’t perfect or doesn’t pay enough or pay at all.
It will mean hard work in any case.
are especially difficult times for anyone who hopes to get a job and do the
same work day after day until retirement.
who wants that anyway?
not why I choose journalism. And i’m guessing that doing the same thing day
after day is not what most of you had in mind when you chose the performing
arts or applied arts.
are creative people, who are bored by routine. We thrive on challenge and
change. We are driven more by passion than common sense or – frankly -- the
prospect of a huge salary.
that sense, we are perfectly suited to these uncertain times. Yes, these are
challenging times, but there has rarely been a time in human history that
idealistic and energetic people have always been at the forefront of change.
And so have artists, writers, actors and musicians. Through their writing,
performances and passions, they have always lit the way to change – even at
their own peril.
have faith that each of you will contribute to making this a better community,
make this a better Canada and a better world.
may be something as simple as mentoring a student at one of the inner-city
may be something bold and experimental that is an almighty failure – but a
failure that provides you with the knowledge that will allow you to succeed the
congratulations to the 2013 graduating class, from this university that I can
now call my own. I look forward to hearing about all of your achievements and
thank you to Capilano University for bestowing this incredible honour on me.
I pledge to return to work with a renewed passion and sense of purpose.
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