Now it’s all about making things happen.
Ensuring that the 75 agreements signed this past week between Canadian university presidents and their Brazilian counterparts lead to action and yield results has been a recurring theme of the Brazil mission. But perhaps that need was not stressed as strongly or at such a high level before as it was yesterday at the Presidential Palace in Brasilia.
That’s where St. Francis Xavier University President Sean Riley signed an agreement between the university’s Coady International Institute and Brazil’s Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais. Participating in the signing and making remarks was Gilberto Carvalho, Chief Minister of the General Secretariat of the Presidency. Minister Carvalho expressed a deep commitment to the values being put into action through the StFX partnership.
It’s a partnership focused on sustainable community development and democratic participation. “Today it is our honour to have this agreement,” said Minister Carvalho, “because we’re talking about the construction of democracy.” And that’s a value Brazilians hold dear.
He said democracy, which Brazilians fought for the in the 1960s and 1970s, can only be fully achieved when the people have both the right to participate in that democracy as well as the education and training that makes them able to participate. He said Brazil’s fight against dictatorship proved to be “a good training ground for democratic leadership in Brazil.
“We also have an open mind with respect to the ideas of others and we need to learn more,” the minister added. And that‘s where the Coady Institute comes in.
Over the past 50 years, the Coady has provided community development training to 6,000 graduates from 130 countries. Among other things, this new agreement will provide opportunities for social organization leaders in Brazil to gain practical training at the institute on the StFX campus in Antigonish, Nova Scotia.
In talking about what StFX and the Coady Institute have to offer, Dr. Riley said, “Probably our greatest interest is in the grassroots development of leaders; the development of leaders from the ground up and not necessarily from the top down.”
Canada’s ambassador to Brazil, Jamal Khokhar, also stressed the importance of moving from words to action. He said the StFX agreement demonstrates how Canada and Brazil can “work together in a spirit of cooperation, generosity and support for our shared role in building an active, capable and engaged citizenry.”
Minister Carvalho invited Ambassador Khokhar to join him in personally monitoring the success of this university partnership as it moves now from words to action.