U of W launches unique human rights degree program
WINNIPEG – Former Governor General of Canada, Adrienne Clarkson, was in Winnipeg on Friday, May 14, to speak at the inauguration ceremony of a new degree program at the University of Winnipeg. The ceremony recognized the first 28 students to enrol in the Bachelor of Arts in Human Rights and Global Studies program, which according to the University of Winnipeg’s Global College, is unique in Western Canada.

“I think this is something very important for the place of Winnipeg as a centre for human rights,” said Clarkson.

The Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, who was a journalist with the CBC from the 1964 to 1988, came to Canada in 1941 as a refugee from Japanese-occupied Hong Kong.

“Everything is imperfect in a democracy,” said Clarkson. “It’s very messy, it’s untidy, it’s frequently rude, it’s frequently unattractive, but it’s better than a dictatorship, which is very, very easy to run and to make people toe the line – you just throw them in jail, torture them, exile them … In a democracy it is very difficult but it is worth it. In the end it’s really worth it.”

Manitoba Minister for Culture, Heritage and Tourism, Flor Marcelino also spoke at the ceremony, saying, “Winnipeg has, and will continue to be, a centre of excellence for the promotion of learning and dialogue concerning human rights.”

Among the other speakers at the ceremony were: Dr. Marilou McPhedran, Principal of the Global College; Steven Fletcher, federal Minister for Democratic Reform; Jerry Woods, Chair of the Manitoba Human Rights Commission; and Dr. Neil Besner, a vice president of the University of Winnipeg.

Clarkson, who would speak later that day atcitizenship ceremony, touched on the subject of citizenship several times in her speech.

“It’s a thrill for me to see someone like Ms. [Flor] Marcelino here, who is a cabinet minister in the provincial government, because being a Filipino person who comes to this country and takes up the challenge of wanting to be a part of the governance of this country and wanting to be elected by her fellow citizens is an example to us all.”

Clarkson was the first to sign the Global College Register, which was designed by artist Martha Colea with calligraphy by Nicole Coulson. The hand-made register will become a permanent legacy of the College to be signed by all future students in the program.

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