The Viceregal Lion
  1. The Governor General of Canada
  2. His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston
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News

Panel Discussion on Celebrating Our Diversity and Preserving Our Heritage (China)

Guiyang, China, Wednesday, July 12, 2017

 

It’s wonderful to be here in Guiyang for this discussion and screening about celebrating our diversity and preserving our heritage. 

I was interested to learn that in your province, Guizhou, over one third of the population identifies itself as belonging to an ethnic minority group, and that your province boasts an impressive array of ethnic diversity.

Canada itself is a study in diversity.

Our country is home to a population with more than 200 ethnic origins and speaking more than 200 languages. This includes some 65 individual and unique Indigenous languages.

It also has the highest proportion of foreign-born population (20.6%) of any G7 country.

This diversity is something to be proud of. I’ve seen the contributions of Canadians—some of whom found their way to Canada from China—who are making ours a smarter, more caring nation.

Of course, as you know, diversity does not guarantee inclusiveness. Not for refugees, not for our Indigenous peoples, not for women or families or young people.

In this, we cannot be complacent.

That is why sharing our art, our films, our stories is so important.

They give us a window into our diverse communities.

Take, for example, the First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples in Canada. They have unique, important perspectives to share, just like ethnic minority groups here in Guizhou and China. I’m pleased to see we are showcasing their stories here.

I’m also grateful to those in China and in Canada who promote filmmaking as a mode of expression and of strengthening cultures. Two organizations represented here today—From Our Eyes here in China and Wapikoni Mobile in Canada—use similar methods to bring equipment and training directly to communities.

In fact, I’m delighted that Ms. Manon Barbeau, co-founder of Wapikoni Mobile, agreed to accompany me as a delegate on this visit. She is here to share with us her considerable experience in going into and working with Indigenous communities. 

It’s wonderful that we are able to share these films, both in our own countries and with each other. Cultural exchanges like these promote understanding, co-operation and learning. I also hope that in the future, more exchanges of this kind will take place in areas of architecture, community development and Indigenous arts.

Canada and China collaborate through trade, research, education and so many other areas. It is also wonderful to see us engaging through our heritage, history and traditions, as well as through our diversity.

This is part of what makes our relationship so special.

I’m looking forward to the discussion today and thank you for all that you do to keep our partnerships thriving.