Welcome students, faculty and staff of Dawson College, friends and neighbours, to the inauguration of the Ecological Peace Garden on the fifth anniversary of the tragic events that unfolded here 5 years ago today.
Votre présence nous honore grandement. Sachez qu’au cours des cinq dernières années, votre soutien, votre confiance, votre loyauté, votre espérance et votre détermination ont été pour l’ensemble de notre communauté une source d’inspiration et de motivation.
I would like to take a few moments to underscore the presence of several people here today, those who played key roles on September 13, 2006, those who were most directly affected, and those who continue to give us strength.
Thank you all for sharing this solemn milestone with us. The events of September 13, 2006 were shocking and caused grief and sadness, but they also led us to seek to create a better world.
As the Dalai Lama has said: “I find hope in the darkest of days, and focus on the brightest. I do not judge the universe.”
Aujourd’hui, nous inaugurons le Jardin de la Paix, dans le but de célébrer la vie au moyen de ce mémorial vivant et afin de rendre hommage à Anastasia de Sousa, dont la soif de vivre qui l’animait représente l’énergie qui permettra à ce Jardin de croître et de s’épanouir au fil des années.
And we are thankful for the lives of each and every one of us, of those who lived through the tragedy, and who emerged stronger and more determined to do good in their lives.
On the night of September 13, 2006, I said we would not turn Dawson into a fortress, that for the spirit of young people to soar, to explore, to become responsible citizens, we would have to find a way to provide a safe environment that would allow teaching and learning to continue and to flourish.
The accomplishments of our students over the last five years have shown us that keeping the spirit of education open was the right thing to do. The renewed commitment of our faculty and staff to our academic mission is testimony to the benefits of choosing to live in a world without fear.
Au moment du premier anniversaire, en 2007, nous nous sommes engagés à construire ce Jardin de la Paix. Le premier cadeau que nous avons alors reçu provenait du Service de Police de la Ville de Montréal sous la forme de cet arbre que vous voyez derrière moi, maintenant garni de rubans roses et blancs et porteurs de messages de paix et d’espoir.
The second gift came from Malaka Ackaoui, a prize-winning landscape architect that is here with us today. She designed this beautiful Garden around a series of three inter-locking infinity loops.
With the guidance, devotion and floral design of our own Cindy Elliot of Sustainable Dawson, this Peace Garden has already begun to build community with planting sessions that have involved hundreds of students and employees of the College and introduced more than 8,000 plants into the soil.
Through our association with Claude Poudrier’s Programme Éducation Environnement et Citoyenneté, Chris Adam and Sustainable Dawson, we have been able to integrate our green initiatives into a living, breathing Garden that promotes sustainability and pedagogy.
The Garden continues to evolve as a teaching space already being used by students and teachers in the arts and visual arts, in engineering, in the sciences and social sciences, French and English and in physical education.
Grâce au soutien financier du Fonds Éco École parrainé par Métro et à l’engagement de la Fondation québécoise en environnement par le biais de son programme ÉCOCAMPUS, le Jardin de la Paix du Collège Dawson a reçu son troisième cadeau. Through the sustained support of ordinary citizens and members of our own community, we hope the Peace Garden will continue to grow.
The most recent gift has come through our association with Cercle de Paix that has helped us find new and important ways to celebrate peace and non-violence. Jean Trudel, le président de Cercle de Paix, has opened the door to vital relationships with the United Nations and UNESCO, represented here today by the Rev. Deborah Moldow, and Special Advisor to the Secretary General of Commission Canadienne pour l’UNESCO, Katherine Berg, as well as with friends of the Dalai Lama, who one of our graduates, Hayder Kadhim, was able to meet last week in a moving ceremony.
Nous sommes fiers d’inscrire cet événement commémoratif dans la continuité du Manifeste 2000 publié par l’UNESCO et intitulé Pour une culture de la paix et de la non-violence. Ce Manifeste, créé par un groupe de Prix Nobel de la paix à l’occasion de la décennie internationale 2001-2010 de la promotion d’une culture de la non-violence et de la paix au profit des enfants du monde, fait la promotion de six principes simples et fondamentaux pour le renforcement de notre savoir-vivre collectif :
The Peace Garden will be a focal point for the Dawson community in every season, and as Mayor Tremblay urged us on the first anniversary, can be a place of beauty and refuge for all Montrealers.
History dealt Dawson a blow five years ago of unimaginable proportions, but the College, inspired by its youth, its academic mission and its dedicated employees, chose to turn tragedy into a lesson we could all share, and committed itself to making positive change.
The American poet Maya Angelou said: “History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.”
Dawson has shown courage, sustained by the support of the Montreal community. That courage has translated in what we see before us today, in the dedication of this Ecological Peace Garden, in the presence of all of you.
Nous avons construit ce Jardin de la Paix afin de capturer l’esprit d’une jeune femme qui nous a laissé sa vie en guise de message et pour illustrer le courage et l’espoir d’une communauté entière. Souhaitons qu’il puisse devenir une source d’éducation et d’inspiration pour nous tous.
Merci. Thank you.
Fellow students, faculty, administration, honoured guests and members of the community, I am honoured to be here today representing the resilient student body of Dawson College.
That is how I began my speech that I gave on this day, 4 years ago, marking the 1 year-anniversary of the tragedy that took the life of one young caring individual, injured many and struck a mark on this institution. I stand here today as a proud alumni and am just as humbled to be addressing all of you today.
In the days following the shooting students like myself had many options. We could have switched colleges; dropped out or shied away from the things and people we cared about and loved. Instead there was a strong desire to come together, to give and to seek support.
Being a brand new student in a small program at Dawson at the time of the shooting we were welcomed to the home of one of our teachers 2 nights after the shooting took place. All 46 of the program’s new participants were in attendance, confiding their thoughts in their new classmates. The following week students, accompanied by faculty, support staff and administrators lined DeMaisonneuve street waiting for the doors of their College to re-open, to reclaim what was theirs and to take a united stand against the violence that had struck so close to home.
This stand against violence has manifested itself in many ways on this campus in the recent years. We saw new policies, new dialogue, new student clubs, new gardens, new conferences, new efforts from the student union, from the community and from our government to make our world a safer place. The door for dialogue on issues of violence has been opened. I would now like to pass the torch off to Audrey Deveault, the current Dawson Student Union chairperson who will be speaking of her personal experience and ways that students are continuing to keep that door open and strive for a safer world.
Thank you Mr. Mital; Director General Mr. Filion; the Honourable Minister of Education, Leisure and Sports and Deputy Premier of Québec Ms. Line Beauchamp; the mayor of Montréal Mr. Gerald Tremblay; chief of the Assembly of First Nations for Québec and Labrador Mr. Ghyslain Picard; Chief of the Algonquin Nation Mr. Dominick Rankin; Mr. and Ms. De Sousa and all members of the De Sousa family; distinguished guests; noted alumni and former students; faculty; staff; and students,
Thank you all for being with us here today by this beautiful Peace Garden at Dawson College in un-surrendered occupied Algonquin territory. I was only thirteen on September 13th, 2006. It was medieval day at my high school and I when I got home my father asked me if I had heard the news. I hadn’t. Actually, I hadn’t even heard of Dawson College. The first thought in my head was , “I will never ever go there”. I’m sure I wasn’t the only young teenager thinking that this school was simply not for me.
But I was wrong. In the coming months, I was moved by the way in which the community of Dawson College came together in their grief. I was inspired by the dedication of the faculty and staff to maintain the spirit of learning and of hope that Dawson College strives towards. I remember watching interviews with student representatives, probably Charlie, and thinking that it was incredible how students, even though young in age, could be exceptionally mature, empathetic, and critical beings. It gave me a desire to be a part of this community. To be optimistic for our collective future. And to be proud of the role youth play in shaping a better world.
Last September, dozens of Dawson students jumped on a bus with the Dawson Student Union in order to show their support for the long-gun registry. These students weren’t here in 2006. Like me, they were in high school at the time. But this distance from the events of September 13th does not deter us from speaking up for what we know is right. Cynics like to argue that long-gun registry did not stop the events that transpired on September 13th. Be that as it may, it is precisely because our community has been a victim of gun violence that we have consistently come together to defend a mechanism that continues to prevent gun violence elsewhere.
We choose to work on models of improving the system, not annihilating it. Gun control does not need to be as divisive a topic as certain government officials make it out to be. We hope that the Government will hear the call of students and youth and pave the way and find the balance between public safety and civil liberties. We are ready for dialogue. Hopefully, Mr. Harper is as well.
Many, many students have come together over the last five years to be a part of this project we know as the ‘Peace Garden’. I am deeply humbled by the tireless work of the CRLT students and Sustainable Dawson. This garden is not only about environmental sustainability, but also the sustainability of our ever-growing community. It shows that we choose love, optimism and hope. In shows that together, we will change the world.