In a recent address to members of the Canadian Club of Vancouver, the Governor General of Canada, His Excellency, the Right Honourable David Johnston, talked about Canada being a “smart and caring nation”, a theme I have heard him speak on so eloquently before.
I am, and have been, impressed with his thinking and ideas about education ever since he assumed his current position. I wrote about him in connection to World Teacher Day in October 2010 (here), quoting his installation speech:
Anyone who has achieved any degree of success and been placed in a leadership position can point to dozens of teachers, mentors and coaches who have made them better persons along the way. In my case, they number in the hundreds.
During my term, we will find ways to properly recognize our teachers who are responsible for our intellectual development. If there is one trumpet call from my remarks today let it be “Cherish Our Teachers”.
I have always had great admiration for the teachers and educators of this country.
In this most recent speech I heard, the Governor General outlined 10 challenges “we need to address, both as caring Canadians and as a caring society, to improve volunteerism and philanthropy in Canada.” (Full text of speech here).
In brief, the 10 points:
- identify the needs of the community — discerning what the community requires, as well as the needs of individuals
- find a new definition for volunteerism that goes beyond altruism
- improve social innovation — how we volunteer and give; we need to be innovative in our thinking as our society evolves
- attract young volunteers — young people often report they don’t volunteer because they are not asked, or because they don’t know how to become involved
- engage volunteers and new ways devised to attract givers
- engage new Canadians to become volunteers, and help them give back to their new community
- revisit professionalism and recruitment in non-profits — these organizations need to operate efficiently, and to do so requires professional skills that may fall outside the volunteer sector
- collaborate outside of what we traditionally do — we could look at what has happened in the US with Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, and others, and find a made-in-Canada approach
- link volunteerism and education; organizations must be able to define their existence to advance the strength of the volunteer sector and it must be part of formal and informal education for young people
- honour all Canadian volunteers — not just with awards, but acknowledging all their giving in communities
His words are also part of a challenge as Canada moves toward its Sesquicentennial in 2017. The Governor General’s Canada vision resonates with me, and the Canada we want for our children — smart and caring.
While his words are great, he is also an exceptionally eloquent speaker. Here is a segment of the Governor General’s Installation Speech:
As he closed his speech on the day I saw him, his focus on Canadian youth and education was compelling, “Canadians have done great things in the past. We are accomplishing so much today. Let us show the world that we are capable of so much more in the future.”