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Vol 37  No 15
June 9, 2005


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Address to convocation

Dr. Bernard Jackson

 

I would like to thank the Senate for this great honour. It is particularly important to me because of the high esteem in which I hold Memorial University and the affection I have for this beautiful province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Thanks also to those kind individuals who sponsored me. And last but by no means least I would like to thank, most sincerely, all the people of Newfoundland and Labrador for giving me the opportunity to work for 35 years with the things I love.

There have been many experiences and adventures along the way. Some ≠ for instance being caught out on the sea ice above Nain at minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit when a strong wind blew up ≠ I could quite gladly have done without. But others were really quite exciting such as when a good friend and colleague and I accidentally release two large, very large, rattlesnakes and a water moccasin onto the floor of the deputy ministerís office. Fortunately the DM's background was in wildlife management and so he, I believe, found the experience quite exhilarating!

And now, as a conservationist, I would like to make a few comments on two different aspects of conservation. The first concerns the conservation of our natural world. I am not going to regale you with a batch of depressing figures for we have all heard of the depletion of the rain forests, climate change, or the melting of the polar icecap and, here in Newfoundland, the destruction of our fishery and the pollution of our offshore waters with the illegal dumping of bunker oil.

Many well informed and knowledgeable scientists now believe that you are the last generation that can ensure the preservation of this world as we know it. It is up to your generation to rectify the mistakes of mine. Remember, however, what Albert Einstein said: "The kind of thinking that has gotten us into this situation is not the kind of thinking that will get us out of it."

I also like to remember the 1855 words of Chief Seattle in his impassioned plea to the president of the United States to protect the Indian way of life. In it he said, "Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth, if men spit upon the ground they spit upon themselves." Looking back one wonders how anybody had the temerity to label him an "ignorant savage!"

The second aspect of conservation I'd like to mention is the conservation of your heritage, your characteristics, and your way of life. Apart from the many successful individuals that have passed through this university over the years this province is known for its authors, its poets, its artists, its musicians and its friendliness to outsiders. This reputation is worth safeguarding.

You must also remember your military history. I am able to stand here today, in front of you, because many young Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, along with many other young men and women, died to make such things possible. Remember how Sir Winston Churchill described your fishermen and small boatmen as "Better than the Best."

In a world that seems forever changing, not always for the better, these things are well worth preserving. It is up to you young people to make it so.

In finishing, my wish for you is that you have as happy, as fulfilling and as rewarding a life as I have had.

Thank you.

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