Visit to the Institut de technologie agroalimentaire
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La Pocatière, Quebec, Monday, February 7, 2011
Thank you for warmly welcoming my wife, Sharon, and I to your community, and to this remarkable educational institute. We have been looking forward to visiting this region and to speaking with you today.
Some of you may be wondering why I have come to La Pocatière. The answer is simple: I believe you are a wonderful example of a community that is dedicated to learning and innovation, and to mutual support of one another. I am also delighted to visit the Institut de technologie agroalimentaire, the first permanent agricultural school in Canada. Let me congratulate you on your heritage, as you continue to look to the future.
Since my installation as governor general, I have been inviting Canadians to join me in imagining our country as it could be. We strive for a smarter, more caring nation, where all can succeed, contribute and develop their talents to their fullest potential.
To achieve this goal, I believe we have to focus on three pillars:
- Supporting families and children;
- Encouraging philanthropy and volunteerism; and
- Reinforcing learning and innovation.
The people of this community know the importance of all three pillars, but today I would like to highlight your exceptional achievements in learning and innovation.
The City of La Pocatière and the many organizations and centres of expertise found here have well-deserved reputations for fostering new ideas and collaborative thinking. For more than a century, this region has been a hub of rural innovation and knowledge. You are leaders in agriculture and agri-food, agri-forestry, environmental stewardship, manufacturing and education.
This morning I had the privilege of meeting with community members to discuss some of the innovative projects currently underway here. I am very impressed by your vision, talent and energy, as well as the diversity of your efforts. I’m also grateful for the chance to sample some of the delicious food and drink that is grown and produced here.
The networks you have formed reach across Canada and overseas, but the key to your success is collaboration here at home. Through partnerships in education, business and government, you have applied your research and introduced new technologies to the world.
In turn, this spirit of creativity and co-operation attracts new talent and investment to the region. The result: a vibrant centre of expertise and discovery that rivals any in Canada.
This community-which is home to just 4,500 people-truly lives up to its billing as a “grande petite ville”.
Innovation, in essence, is about crafting new ideas to improve the way we do things. Innovation is about seeing things differently, and imagining that which could be.
Innovation drives discovery. For a reminder of this, we need look no further than the nearby waters of the St. Lawrence River. Some 400 years ago, Samuel de Champlain travelled westward up this river, astrolabe in hand.
And what was the result of his discovery? Canada: an experiment in peace, tolerance and inclusiveness that continues to this day.
Like Champlain was, the people of this community are more than smart. You also help and encourage each other in so many ways. An example of this is your support for young people who wish to live, work and study in this region. You provide financial aid, tools for capacity building, partnership opportunities and an important sense of belonging for the next generation. The young people of Canada have so much to offer, and I commend you for making youth entrepreneurship and learning one of your priorities.
Canadians have a long history of coming together and helping one another. We see this across Canada, in large cities and in rural communities like this one.
Before our move to Rideau Hall, we lived in a farming community in southern Ontario, known for its tradition of Mennonite barn-raising. This tradition, where neighbours gather on the scaffold of a new barn, using their diverse talents and energy to help a neighbor in need, offers a vivid metaphor for collaboration.
This spirit of collaboration-of barn-raising-is alive and well in this region. I want to congratulate you for your efforts to build a culture of learning, innovation and co-operation.
Together, you are helping to create the smarter, more caring Canada to which we all aspire.