The Governor General of Canada speaks to the themes of Inclusivity, Innovation and Diplomacy

The Governor General of Canada, Right Honourable David Johnston speaks at Smart Global Development Conference hosted by the Aga Khan foundation Canada. Governor General cites examples of His Highness the Aga Khan’s bold vision in establishing the Aga Khan University in Karachi, and his visit to Karachi for the opening ceremony, as president of McGill University. The entire speech is worth the read.


Greetings, all of you, and a special welcome to those of you who have travelled from far and wide to be here.

You missed winter—barely!

Before I begin, I’d like to acknowledge that this conference is taking place on the traditional territory of the Algonquin nation.

In fact, the word “Ottawa” comes from the Algonquin word for trade, which makes sense given our location at the junction of three great rivers: the Ottawa, the Gatineau and the Rideau.

Think about that for a moment. For centuries, people have come together on this exact spot to trade goods, ideas and stories.

Today, we continue that tradition. Our theme is the role of higher education in advancing sustainable development goals.

So let me begin with a story.

The Governor General of Canada speaks to the themes of Inclusivity, Innovation and DiplomacyIt takes place a few years back: in 1981, in Karachi, Pakistan.

As you may know, Karachi is home to the Aga Khan University, one of the top learning institutions in Pakistan.

Today, the university is well known as a leader in the field of medicine, but what’s less well known is that this is partly the result of a wonderful partnership that existed between Aga Khan University and a number of North American universities including McGill in Montréal in the early 1980s.

This partnership saw renowned McGill epidemiologist Walter Spitzer and his team working closely with their Pakistani counterparts to share McGill’s lessons learned in establishing a successful community medicine model.

Thanks to this collaboration, the new Aga Khan University hospital was able to build on McGill’s experience in deploying public health services in Karachi!

Back in those days, I was serving as president of McGill, and I had the opportunity to join the Aga Khan in Karachi for the opening of the new university hospital.

The diplomacy of knowledge is simply this: the process by which distinct peoples and cultures come together and improve lives by sharing knowledge across borders and disciplines.

And as I learned in Karachi more than three decades ago, the Aga Khan is a wise practitioner of this brand of diplomacy.

I remember being so impressed by the boldness of the Aga Khan’s initiative!

The goal was very ambitious: to bring the best of Western medicine to a country with very distinct customs and traditions.

One of the most striking challenges involved the opening of the nursing school. Many of the nursing students were women, but a traditional barrier existed against the treatment of boys and men by female health professionals.

As you can imagine, this kind of challenge is only resolved by showing a great deal of cultural sensitivity. This was done elegantly and with high professional nursing standards through a partnership with McMaster University’s School of Nursing in Hamilton. In fact, the first dean of the Aga Khan University School of Nursing was a former McMaster professor.

With this story in mind, I’d like to briefly highlight three themes to help guide your discussions…

Read complete at the source:

Follow Twitter Hashtag #SmartGlobalDev and #Photos


Author: ismailimail

Independent, civil society media featuring Ismaili Muslim community, inter and intra faith endeavors, achievements and humanitarian works.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.