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Published by Communications and Public Affairs 519 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

June 04, 2007

Leading Canadian Advocates to Converge in Guelph for President's Dialogue

What does someone who started a worldwide initiative to end child labour have in common with a former foreign minister or an agricultural pioneer?

What kind of connection could there be between journalists dedicated to reporting on “human rights and human wrongs” and a Canadian diplomat?

The answer? They were all ordinary people who used their drive and passion to do extraordinary things that changed the world.

Find out when Craig Kielburger, Lloyd Axworthy, Peter Hannam, Sally Armstrong, Pamela Wallin, Louise Fréchette and Paul Rusesabagina come to the University of Guelph June 13 to discuss what other Canadians can do to make a difference.

They’re taking part in Guelph’s second annual “President’s Dialogue,” an initiative started by U of G president Alastair Summerlee to engage the public in stimulating discussions about issues of contemporary importance.

“We live in a complex and integrated world,” said Summerlee. “Our objective is to mobilize some of the best minds in the country to discuss issues of great importance with the public.”

The President’s Dialogue on “Canada: Global Citizen” begins at 10 a.m. in Rozanski Hall and is free and open to the public. The panellists will discuss Canada’s many different roles on the international stage. The dialogue will also be available live on the internet.

“Since the 1950s, Canada has been known as a country dedicated to peacekeeping and to providing human services abroad,” says Summerlee. But the ever-changing world situation continues to present social, economic and environmental challenges.

“We are dealing with natural disasters, violence and tragedy, emerging diseases and food and water shortages,” he said. “It’s an important time to ask ourselves whether, as a nation, we are truly doing all we can or whether we are resting on our laurels, so to speak.”

Summerlee added that the dialogue participants are from diverse backgrounds and have had unique experiences on the world stage. “That will add depth and perspective to the exchange.”

Armstrong is a journalist, documentary filmmaker, author, teacher and human rights activist. She was one of the first people to report on the conditions faced by Afghan women under the Taliban regime. In 2002, UNICEF appointed her as a special representative to Afghanistan.

Axworthy is president of the University of Winnipeg and served as Canada’s foreign minister, during which time he instigated a landmark treaty that banned anti-personnel land mines.

Fréchette was the first deputy secretary-general of the United Nations and, among other things, Canada’s assistant deputy minister for economic policy and trade competitiveness.

Kielburger founded Free the Children, the largest network of children helping children in the world, when he was just 12 and had become outraged over child labour laws.

Hannam, a pivotal leader in Canadian agriculture, is interested in the global role Canada can play in helping other nations improve their food production systems.

Wallin is one of Canada’s most accomplished and esteemed journalists, diplomats and entrepreneurs and will be installed as the next chancellor of the University of Guelph June 13.

Rusesabagina has been internationally honoured for using his influence and connections as temporary manager of a hotel to shelter more than 1,260 people from being slaughtered by the militia during the Rwandan Genocide. His story of bravery became the basis of the 2004 Academy Award-nominated film Hotel Rwanda.

The dialogue participants are also among those who will be honoured June 11 to 14 during Guelph’s second thematic convocation, at which nine “global citizens” will receive honorary degrees.

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338, or Deirdre Healey, Ext. 56982.

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