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Canada at 150

30 June 2017

H.E. Sandra McCardell, High Commissioner of Canada to South Africa, hosted a reception on the occasion of Canada Day.

In welcoming guests High Commissioner McCardell said, Even before the arrival of European explorers over 500 years ago, Canada’s First Nations had been present on the land for more than 10 000 years. As part of a week of celebrations of Canada, National Aboriginal Day – this year, on the summer solstice –recognizes the fundamental contributions that First Nations, Inuit, and the Métis have made to the identity and culture of all Canadians. The history, art, food, and traditions of Indigenous Peoples have shaped our past, and will continue to shape our future."

Speech by H.E. Sandra McCardell, High Commissioner of Canada to South Africa, on the occasion of Canada Day – June 29, 2017

Welcome! Bienvenue!

Canada Day is always an important event for Canadians, but this year it takes on a particularly special meaning. It was 150 years ago – in 1867 – that the then-British colonies of Canada, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia united in a Confederation to form the Dominion of Canada.  But the history of our nation is in fact much longer than that.

Even before the arrival of European explorers over 500 years ago, Canada’s First Nations had been present on the land for more than 10 000 years.

As part of a week of celebrations of Canada, National Aboriginal Day – this year, on the summer solstice –recognizes the fundamental contributions that First Nations, Inuit, and the Métis have made to the identity and culture of all Canadians. The history, art, food, and traditions of Indigenous Peoples have shaped our past, and will continue to shape our future.

On June 24th, the Québecois celebrate their ‘Fête nationale’, St. Jean-Baptiste Day.

La langue française et la culture québecoise sont des éléments fondateurs de notre pays et continuent de façonner nos valeurs, nos aspirations et notre identité canadienne. La Saint-Jean-Baptiste est une occasion pour chacun d’entre nous de réfléchir aux contributions essentielles que les Canadiens d’expression française ont apportées pour bâtir le pays diversifié, fort et inclusif auquel nous appartenons.

Canada is a vast and diverse country, at once an Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic nation, with personal and business connections to all points on the globe, including here in South Africa.

Multiculturalism is at the heart of Canada’s heritage and identity – and as our Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced on numerous occasions, we recognize that our differences make us stronger. They allow our society to benefit from fresh perspectives and find new answers to old problems. It has also helped Canada attract some of the most innovative and entrepreneurial people from around the world, showing that openness is the engine of both creativity and prosperity.

Our diversity has enriched our culture and propelled us to share our art, music, film, and literature with the world. From Cirque du Soleil to Anne of Green Gables, to singers like Drake and Celine Dion, actors like Ryan Reynolds or Mike Myers, or film directors like Atom Egoyan or Xavier Dolan whose work was recognized at Cannes this year… some of our best exports have brought Canadian culture, music, laughter and tears to you and to your screens.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Canada-South Africa Agreement on TV and film co-productions. I will be welcoming a delegation of Canadian producers to the Durban International Film festival next month in another Canada 150 event.

In a year with several milestones, Canadians take pride in commemorating this year the 35th anniversary of our Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  This document embodies the values of democracy, good governance and human rights that Canadians live by at home and seek to promote abroad.  

In fact, it was a Canadian, John Humphrey, who was the principal drafter of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations in 1948. It is a reflection of our commitment to these values and to the multilateral organizations which promote them, that Canada has presented its candidacy for the UN Security Council in 2021-22.
For us, our 150th anniversary is not just about celebrating Canada. It’s also about strengthening our friendships across the globe. Our long history of partnership and the growing South Africa-Canada relationship were at the centre of our bilateral consultations a few months ago.

During those consultations, our countries reaffirmed the importance of Canada’s bilateral assistance in strengthening governance and the capacity of South Africa’s institutions to better respond to the needs of its citizens.  We agreed to strengthen trade and investment and environmental cooperation, and on the importance of innovation in driving economic prosperity, and to advance education, academic relations, innovation and research.

Our shared values of democracy and human rights have played a historic role in the ties between our two countries.  Almost a quarter century ago, Canada offered its expertise to South Africa for the drafting of its Constitution. This year, Canada’s Minister of Justice came to exchange experiences and learn from South Africa’s transformation at a time when Canada is making efforts towards reconciliation for the historic injustices faced by our indigenous peoples.

Looking forward, Canada is proud to host the 2018 G7 Summit. The summit will allow Canada to showcase both its domestic and international priorities: to strengthen the middle class, advance gender equity, fight climate change, and promote respect for diversity and inclusion.

Canada is also justifiably proud of our newly announced feminist International Assistance Policy, which ensures that gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls will play an even greater role in our cooperation abroad.

We are pursuing a new and progressive approach to doing business across borders – one that ensures that the benefits and opportunities generated by global trade are sustainable and widely shared by people everywhere, including women and youth.

Before I close, I’d like to bring things a bit closer to home and say a few words about our great celebration tonight!

From the passports you received on arrival, you will see that youth, Indigenous engagement, diversity and inclusion, and the environment are the four themes that have driven our Canada 150 celebrations at home and abroad.  In keeping with the key role that seasons play in Canada – many foreigners count their winters in Canada rather than years – we have created Spring, Summer, Winter and Fall stations.  Visit each of these to better understand the themes of Canada 150 and their meaning for Canadians.

We have representatives here from our brand-new Southern Africa Chamber of Commerce, which will help to further develop and strengthen our business networks.

Finally, I’d like to offer a special thank you to our Canadian companies who have been a major part of making today’s event a reality. Thanks to SkyPower, AGT Foods, Bombardier and Bryte Insurance as well as the many other partners for their generous contributions.

To all of you, thank you for celebrating with us and being part of Canada’s 150th anniversary.

Now I will ask you to raise a glass and join me in a toast – to Canada and to making the next 150 years even better!

Happy Canada Day! Bonne fête du Canada!

 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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May 2018

 
 
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