Habitat for Humanity Canada
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Reception for Members of Habitat for Humanity Canada
on the Occasion of its 25th Anniversary
Rideau Hall, Wednesday, April 28, 2010
It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to this residence for the second time since the beginning of my mandate, a residence that was also yours, Mr. Schreyer, from 1979 to 1984.
You are very welcome here, as are all of you who work towards an ideal.
The ideal of a world where everyone has “a simple, decent place to live,” as you so eloquently said, Mr. Schreyer, when you joined Habitat for Humanity’s International Board.
An ideal that your organization puts into action using an ingenious formula that has proven itself over the past twenty-five years.
You provide the materials, with the help of various donors—from individuals to companies to major corporations—, but the labour is provided by the future homeowners and members of their community.
You are not just giving these women and men hammers and nails; you are putting their future and the future of their community in their own hands.
They are building a house, yes, but they are also building a dream. A dream of a better life, a better world.
Moreover, by giving them property rights, you are giving them a sense of belonging and of responsibility; you are making them the masters of their own fate.
I see even more possibility in this method now, as I have just returned from an official visit to the areas of Haiti left in ruin by the earthquake.
In light of what I saw and of what I heard, I believe it is more essential than ever that we base all reconstruction efforts on this spirit of reciprocity and of inclusiveness, even more, I would say, of empowerment.
I quite firmly believe that Haitian civil society is an extremely stable foundation on which sustainable development on the island can be built.
Moreover, throughout my visit to Haiti—where, we must remember, one million people are homeless—people often spoke about Habitat for Humanity. You are playing an important role in the outpouring of Canadian and international solidarity that has taken place since the January 12 earthquake.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for the remarkable work you are doing there, with our Haitian sisters and brothers, and in other regions of the world that have been devastated by natural disasters.
Habitat for Humanity gives power, dignity and hope to people who are not as lucky as we are, people who find themselves in a fragile state for all kinds of reasons and circumstances. It is the kind of work that I truly believe in.
You improve the lives of women, men and children in a tangible way, and—on this, your 25th anniversary—I would like to wish you the greatest success as you continue your work here at home and beyond our borders.
Thank you very much.