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Canada Introduction

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African Canadians
Alberta cowboy John Ware, Vancouver icons Joe Fortes and Harry Jerome, jazz pianist Oscar Peterson, and many more. Watch for this special feature.
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Jeni LeGon
History makers
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Notes from address by Hon. Peter Mackay, Minister of Foreign Affaris, Canada

Our presence in Dartmouth today underlines the Coady Institute's international convening power, as well as the importance of microcredit and the integration of women and youth as partners for the future of Africa. The Institute and CIDA's Youth Actions' International Youth Internship Program sponsored 10 young leaders. The goal is to develop and support innovative and effective programs that build a sense of global citizenship and empower and inspire Canadian youth to be active in poverty reduction, health, education and social services promotion. This year, Canadian interns worked in places like Kenya and Ethiopia.

Nova Scotia has, of course, a place in African history. It was to Halifax and other areas of the province that former slaves fled from the United States seeking their freedom following the War of Independence. And it was from Halifax in the late 18th century that they set sail to found Freetown, Sierra Leone. Even today you can see the influence of the style of houses, the street names and places in that country.

And here in Nova Scotia, African descendants make up one of the pillars of our society along with Aboriginal, Acadian and European peoples. For a small province, we are rich in culture and diversity&emdash;a tapestry of multiculturalism.

Late last year, Her Excellency Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, Governor General of Canada, paid her first series of State visits to five African countries at the request of the Prime Minister of Canada, the Right Honourable Stephen Harper.

This morning, I met a lady in Halifax who greets people at the tourist booth. She was smiling ear to ear. She said "I met the Governor General yesterday and found her to be so genuine, so kind and so gentle and generous with her time." She has not stopped smiling since. That is the impact of our Governor General everywhere she goes. I feel very honoured to have her in my home province.

Her Excellency invited Mary Coyle, Director of the Coady Institute at St. Francis Xavier University, to join her accompanying delegation. It was an appropriate choice and one that acknowledged the importance of the microcredit sector and the solid partnerships already established in Africa by the Coady Institute.

The countries on Mme Jean's itinerary&emdash;Algeria, Mali, Ghana, South Africa and Morocco&emdash;are all headed by African leaders taking governance and democratic reform seriously, and acting accordingly. We were pleased that President Kufuor of Ghana was selected as the next chair of the African Union. There are critically important challenges and decisions to be made at this time. The Chair, President Kufuor, will need much wisdom and support from the international community at this time, especially when we think of the ongoing crisis in Darfur and the turmoil in Somalia and other parts of Africa. The tragedy and instability remain.

Her Excellency's visit gave official encouragement to African and Canadian partners working together for a better world. Her program showed examples of achieving results through effective use of development and assistance and private sector investment. It also brought hope and compassion, which follow her everywhere. She is the embodiment of both.

An estimated 550 Canadian organizations now partner with African NGOs. The growing African diaspora in Canada has found new ways to connect Africans and Canadians. Hundreds of young Canadians sponsored by churches, schools, service organizations and specialized agencies are volunteering in Africa to train journalists, build wells, and teach. In addition, last year Export Development Canada supported 268 Canadian companies in 31 African countries. Our trade and investment figures are growing significantly.

It was also an element of pride for Canadians to see their Governor General, herself a former refugee from Haiti with African roots, engaging and interacting with Africans at a personal and human level outside capital cities, and listening to them on issues such as women's health, education, concerns of youth violence and depressed people living with HIV/AIDS. It underlined that Canadians care.

Canada's future partnerships, whether diplomatic, security-related, developmental or private sector, will recognize African leadership and African ownership, along with mutual responsibility and accountability. In the spirit of the New Partnership for Africa's Development, which we support, and under the African Union, Africa is increasingly taking charge of its own destiny. Canada has been one of the top contributors to the African Union Mission in Sudan and will continue to provide critical support until a transition to an African Union-UN mission can be accomplished, and some form of real stability and peace can emerge, resulting in greater reconstruction and development.

New partnerships must also recognize the importance of a vibrant African civil society and the empowerment of women and youth to be agents of development. For example, between 2000 and 2005, the Canadian International Development Agency's programs in eight African countries resulted in an additional 4.5 million girls attending school. In Rwanda, Canada has helped women raise awareness of their legal rights and secure or retrieve their property.

To reinforce positive trends, the Prime Minister of Canada announced important new contributions to health systems and education in Africa at last year's G8 Summit in St. Petersburg. We expect that under the German presidency of the G8, Africa will again be a major focus of leaders.

In closing, I would like to thank the organizers of this event for the invitation, and to wish you every success in your deliberations.



African Canadian Heritage Association
The African Canadian Heritage Association is an African Heritage and language program operating out of a new location at Centennial College Progress Campus (at Markham Rd. and Hwy 401)The ACHA program features African history lessons, arts and crafts, special events for students, who range in age from 5 to 16 years of age. Classes run from September to June. Most notable ACHA special events include : the Youth Retreat (for children 11 Years and older ). Entrepreneur's Day and the Black History Challenge. Website

Dozens of African Projects at Missions Fest
"We were simply amazed at the scope of work being done by Canadians throughout Africa." Editor's comment at annual event in Vancouver.