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Australian and Canadian Experiences

The Governor-General of Australia speaks at the Centre

April 5, 2013 | Australian High Commission in Canada

“As I observe my country now,” remarked Her Excellency Quentin Bryce in her keynote Canadian address at the Global Centre for Pluralism, “what delights me and inspires me most is our rich diversity. I love our vibrant multiculturalism. That we are one but we are many.”

On Friday, 5 April 2013, more than one hundred people welcomed the Governor-General of Australia to Ottawa at a reception co-hosted by the Global Centre for Pluralism in partnership with the Australian High Commission in Canada. The venue for the event was the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat, where the Centre is temporarily located. The theme of the gathering was "valuing diversity". Following Governor-General Bryce’s remarks, Global Centre for Pluralism Board member Huguette Labelle provided perspective on the Canadian experience.

In Australia today, respect for diversity is a core national value. The successful integration of newcomers from around the world into Australian civic life is a matter of intense national pride -- an experience and feeling mirrored in Canada. In both countries, individuals of diverse ethnic, religious and national origins come together, without erasing their differences, within a framework of shared citizenship. A commitment to valuing diversity now runs deep in Australian and Canadian psyches, but not all citizens have benefitted equitably or at the same pace. To highlight the ongoing struggles and achievements of First Nations in both countries, four Australian indigenous leaders accompanied the Governor-General on her Canadian tour, which included stops in Vancouver, Ottawa and Iqaluit.

Huguette Labelle thanked Governor-General Bryce for her insights, noting that although living with diversity remains a work in progress in both countries, the Canadian and Australian experiences demonstrate what can be achieved when societies value rather than fear diversity. “The hard-won lessons and experiences of both countries are of great value to the rest of the world,” Labelle observed, “and I’m struck by the potential for partnership between Canada and Australia in this area. While it’s for each society to chart their course when navigating diversity, countries like Canada and Australia and organizations like the Global Centre for Pluralism can provide invaluable perspectives, share important lessons, offer much needed leadership, and at the same time continue to learn more from others – because we do every day.”

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