Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

2nd Session, 37th Parliament,
Volume 140, Issue 63

Thursday, June 5, 2003
The Honourable Dan Hays, Speaker

Professor Karim-Aly Kassam


Congratulations on Receiving Fulbright-Organization of American States Ecology Grant

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, I rise to recognize the outstanding achievements of Professor Karim-Aly Kassam, an Albertan and one of Canada’s finest northern researchers, who recently became the first Canadian winner of the prestigious Fulbright-OAS ecology grant.

The Fulbright-OAS ecology grant offers opportunities for scholars, in the fields of natural science, social science and public policy, who wish to pursue masters and doctorate level studies in the United States. Professor Kassam will pursue a doctorate in natural resource policy and management at Cornell University.

Last night, I was honoured to co-host a reception on Parliament Hill, celebrating Professor Kassam’s outstanding achievement with Commissioner Nurjehan Mawani of the Public Service Commission. In attendance were diplomats, our Senate leader, Senator Carstairs, parliamentarians, including the Honourable David Kilgour who was our master of ceremonies, Rahim Jaffer who lauded Professor Kassam’s achievements, Dr. Michael Hawes, Executive Director of the Canada-U.S. Fulbright Program, who spoke of the significance of the award, and Mr. Charles Coffey, Past Chair of the Canada-U.S. Fulbright Commission. We paid tribute to the tireless efforts of Professor Kassam to help sustain the indigenous communities of the Far North.

Commissioner Mawani spoke of Professor Kassam’s academic excellence and highlighted a few of the many reasons why he is deserving of the award. He said:

His work in the Arctic has touched and has relevance for both U.S. and Canadian jurisdictions. His past work and proposed field of scholarship, based as they are on the Arctic and the sub-Arctic, are of universal interest far beyond the immediate confines of North America, and the plight of indigenous peoples is now increasingly engaging the attention of Governments around the world.

Speaking to the group last night, Professor Kassam had these words of inspiration:

I firmly believe to whom much is given much is expected. This is a principle I ingrain into my teaching and it informs my day-to-day activities, especially my research.

Those of us who teach in Canadian universities and undertake research with the support of public institutions have a responsibility to serve, to serve communities in which we live and across the world. Our role is to be “citizen scholars.” The protection of academic freedom that we have is simultaneously a right and a responsibility, a duty to serve through our work.

I hope honourable senators will join me in congratulating Professor Karim-Aly Kassam for his groundbreaking achievement and for his determined research and efforts to assist the communities of the North to sustain their ways of life and enhance their future prospects.