Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

1st Session, 41st Parliament,
Volume 148, Issue 11

Thursday, June 23, 2011
The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker

The University of Western Ontario’s Africa Institute

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, on Tuesday, May 3, 2011, I had the honour of being present at the launch of the University of Western Ontario’s Africa Institute in Nairobi, Kenya.

The institute has been created to further scholarship and policy development related to African society, politics, economy, culture and health.

In addition, the launch of this institute was an important step in building a partnership between the University of Western Ontario and universities across the continent of Africa.

During the launch of the institute, Professor Joanna Quinn explained that the institute has more than 75 highly acclaimed faculty members working on the ground across Africa, and nearly as many graduate students working alongside them.

She stated:

We see the institute as a space for dialogue and research between, with and for Africans.

The audience that gathered at the University of Nairobi also had the opportunity to hear Dr. Ted Hewitt, who is Western University’s Vice-President of International Relations, as well as Professor Irena Creed.

In his remarks, Dr. Hewitt stated:

We are committed to working together on issues and challenges facing both Africa and Canada. That is the nature of our partnership: with Africans, for Africans, for the betterment of the planet.

Although the Africa Institute was launched recently, it already has several projects under way. One project that Dr. Creed discussed was an ecosystem health program in Lake Naivasha. This project is focused on ensuring that Lake Naivasha continues to be a viable resource for people residing in the community. Dr. Creed explained that Lake Naivasha is located in a region that has become a developmental hub in Kenya, as it has a population that has grown at unimaginable rates. As a result, Lake Naivasha has become a source of all water needs and a sink for wastes.

Dr. Creed and her team have worked to ensure that all those who rely on Lake Naivasha as a source of drinking water and food will be able to continue to do so for generations to come.

She stated:

To understand our vision of ecosystem health, one needs to stand on the edge of a community in crisis and listen to the voices of the community because they know first-hand the environmental issues and concerns they face.

The academic community cannot solve these problems in isolation. Research doesn’t solve problems — people solve problems.

Honourable senators, I urge you to join me in congratulating the University of Western Ontario for establishing the Africa Institute, as this will be of great value to men and women in Africa and Canada.