It’s not every day a city receives a visit from the Canada’s representative of the Queen and even rarer to have him attend your convocation.
Gov. Gen. David Johnston and his wife, Sharon, were presented with honorary doctorates of law at Vancouver Island University’s winter convocation Thursday.
During an interview with the News Bulletin prior to the convocation, Johnston said he wants to make Canadians aware of the opportunities for business, education and cultural exchange opening in the Asia-Pacific Region and to prepare themselves to take advantage of those opportunities through social and technological innovation.
“The first thing I would say is that minds, like parachutes, work best when opened,” Johnston said. “Innovation is simply taking an existing or new idea and applying it to things to make them better.”
He said key elements facilitating those kinds of innovation include building trust among people – something in which Canadians, a trusted nation have an advantage. It also takes diplomacy of knowledge – knowledge that transcends boundaries and disciplines because it not limited by geographical boundaries or disciplinary structure.
“The beauty about knowledge is it’s a renewable resource,” Johnston said. “[Thomas] Jefferson once said, ‘When you light your unlit candle from my lit candle of knowledge, my light is not diminished. It’s enhanced.”
Growing talent is Johnston’s the third element in furthering innovation, especially through ethnic and cultural diversity. He said Canada does not insist on assimilation, but encourages people to preserve their cultures, noting that more languages are spoken in Canada than any other country.
“The fourth [element] would be the aspiration for excellence – setting very high levels of excellence,” Johnston said.
Johnston advises students to keep their minds open and develop their passion for learning.
“Not just as a set of tools, but something that makes you fuller,” he said. “I would also say that experiential learning is a very good thing. Mix your academic exposure with some practical exposure as well and you can then sort out what you really want to do in life and you can also sort out where the opportunities are and where they aren’t.”
Nanaimo is one of several stops on Johnson’s visit to B.C., where he spoke to the Vancouver Board of Trade, presented volunteers on the Lower Mainland with the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award, and unveiled Langara College’s Armorial Bearings.
Johnston took a tour of the Harmac Pacific pulp mill Thursday morning before attending the VIU convocation at the Port Theatre in the afternoon.