For British Columbia Senator Mobina Jaffer, collaboration is the key starting point in sustaining peace and driving development in developing countries.
Collaboration, she told University of Prince Edward Island students, means building relationships.
“And there is nobody that can do that better than young people,’’ said Jaffer, who served as Canada’s Special Envoy for Peace in Sudan from 2002 to 2006.
“Building relationships is what it is about.’’
Jaffer was the guest speaker for the 12th annual International Development Week Fundraising Luncheon at UPEI.
She spoke on the importance of knowledge sharing in health, nutrition and women in conflict in addressing International Development Week’s 2013 theme: The Role of Youth in Global Collaboration for Sustainable Peace and Development.
She urged students to “take some time to help our brethren...every single person in this room can make a difference.’’
Jaffer, a native of Uganda who speaks six languages, also told the students that there is great value in learning new languages.
“If you learn a person’s language, you understand them — you understand their culture,’’ she said.
Jaffer has long been a champion of Canada’s linguistic bilingualism, advocating measures to advance the use of English and French in communities across Canada.
On Friday, though, her focus was on convincing university students of the merits in making the effort to make a difference abroad. She added that piles of money are not always needed to do plenty of good.
“A lot of Canadians are involved in small projects that save lives,’’ she said.
As for Jaffer, the first Muslim senator, she will “go to all kinds of limits’’ to advance the rights of women.
From 2002 to 2005, she chaired the Canadian Committee on Women, Peace and Security. The Women’s Executive Network named Jaffer among Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women in 2003, 2004, and 2005.
She is encouraged by the strong “thirst to learn’’ that she witnesses among Muslim women.
She was pleasantly surprised to discover during her considerable work with nomadic women in Kenya that even these women were keen to see their daughters get a good education.
The International Development Week luncheon at the university also included the presentation of several awards to international students attending UPEI.
The top honour went to Yinze Dai. Dai received the Dr. Vianne Timmons International Student Award that is presented to an international student enrolled in his or her second year of full-time, undergraduate study at UPEI in good academic standing and, with demonstrated involvement in activities or volunteer work, both on and off campus.
Potential to foster international cooperation at UPEI and in the community must also be shown.
The award was named in 2008 in recognition of Timmons’ extensive work in internationalization.
Timmons, former vice-president academic development of UPEI and now president and vice-chancellor of the University of Regina was named one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women by the Women’s Executive Network in 2010.