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Medical school launch a regal occasion.

Editor's note: The following is the complete text of the address of His Excellency John Ralston Saul as he represented his wife, Her Excellency the Right Honourable Governor General Adrienne Clarkson, at the grand opening of the Northern Ontario School of Medicine Sept. 13. Saul, a Companion in the Order of Canada, is a tireless advocate of billingualism and arguably this country's most important philosopher and author.

Your Honour, Premier, Elder, Ministers, Mr. Harper, Your Worships, Presidents Woodsworth and Gilbert, Dean Strasser.

We all know that today's events are historical for Laurentian University, for Lake-head University, for the Canadian North, and for this particular north, which is the north of Ontario. Having spent for years a good deal of time all across the Canadian North, I can frankly say that these events are historical within the whole concept of Canada and the North.


As for myself, I'm delighted to be back at Laurentian where I've worked with the President to further the cause of French and bilingualism, where I've been granted an Honorary Doctorate and where I now sit on the President's Advisory Council.

I'm only sorry not to be able also to be at Lakehead, a wonderful university. Over the last few years I've regularly been involved in electronic conversations involving Lake-head's history students and northwestern Ontario First Nation high school students.

There are many norths in Canada. This broad mid-north or near north band of which you are part, and which stretches right across Canada has historically been the beneficiary and the victim of commodities. In part because of the nature of the commodities economy, you have often been subjected to the whims of southern ideas about how society ought to be organized and run.

The creation of the Northern Ontario School of Medicine is a sign of something new - I have seen early signs of this trend in other parts of the north. What is new is the real north imagined through its own reality, its own needs.

For the first wave of students, whether First Nation, francophone, northern or from elsewhere, this is the beginning of a great adventure. But for the north, this moment is in some ways seismic. Here we have a medical school - that most complex of institutions - built upon the centuries old Canadian triangular foundation of First Nations, francophones and anglophones. Here we have an institution, which takes the often invoked (and) little respected, idea of community-based programming and quite simply applies it. Here is an institution built around real northern needs tied to isolated and small communities. And here is a medical school, which invokes as its core values those concepts which are central to the successful future of Canadian public medicine--linking the specialties, an interdisciplinary approach, a community-based approach, which translates into a wellness approach.

If I am so happy to be here, with you, in these last few days of my time at Rideau Hall, it is in good part because your accomplishment today, at Lakehead and Laurentian, is a harbinger of a north to come and a Canada which must come. The model which you have designed can be repeated elsewhere in the North, in other fields.

Congratulations to all of you. You are, in that eternal formula, the builders of our history.
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Title Annotation:GREATER SUDBURY
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Date:Oct 1, 2005
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