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Fiftieth Anniversary of the Coady International Institute

 

Hon. Michael L. MacDonald: Honourable senators, I rise today to pay tribute to a most inspiring Nova Scotia institution. The Coady International Institute at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish celebrates its fiftieth anniversary this month.

The institute was founded in 1959 and named after Father Moses Coady, a pioneer of adult education in Nova Scotia. The work of Father Coady and his cousin, Father Jimmy Tompkins, later became known as the "Antigonish movement," growing out of the Catholic values of the worth and dignity of all people and the strong democratic belief that social reform must come through education.

St. Francis Xavier University has long had an interest in the people of its constituency. Its founders and their successors were never satisfied that only a few could receive a higher education. The work of people like Father Coady, Father Tompkins, Father Michael Gillis, Rev. Hugh MacPherson, Father Angus B. MacDonald and their successors opened the doors of the university to the men and women of Nova Scotia's fishing, farming and mining communities.

The people in these communities had been failed by their educations. They may have had the skills to fish, farm or mine, but they knew little about planning, or the economic factors keeping so many of them in poverty.

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Father Coady said to the people: "You are poor enough to want it and smart enough to get it." He encouraged people to examine their so-called lot in life. He encouraged them to think about ways to better their lives, to learn the skills they needed, and to understand the economic and technical concepts to help them make sense of their world.

Today, the Coady International Institute is a beacon of learning and hope for people around the world. Students from developing countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean come to St. FX for a unique learning experience. They learn about microfinance, community development, education and health care. More than that, they get to live and study in Nova Scotia, and can be inspired by how much of an impact the work of this institute and the founders of this movement have had in just a few generations.

To date, the more than 5,000 graduates and partners of the institute are working in more than 130 countries around the world, sharing their knowledge and the spirit of the Antigonish movement. Many Canadians continue to take advantage of the Coady Institute's programs as well, including the internship program which sends young people abroad for six months to work in developing countries, giving them useful work experience in helping to promote global citizenship.

Honourable senators, the Coady Institute is a shining example of what happens when people work together to better themselves, and of the values of the people of Nova Scotia and, indeed, of all of Canada.