UN rep talks to students At her alma mater
SASKATOON A representative from the United Nations made a stop at her alma mater in Saskatoon on Friday to talk to students about their roles as 21st century citizens.
Evan Hardy Collegiate alum Dr. Alaa Murabit is currently a UN High-Level Commissioner on Health Employment and Economic Growth, and is one of the 17 people selected as Global Sustainable Development Goal Advocates.
Murabit and Mayor Charlie Clark addressed students at Evan Hardy, though Clark joked that Murabit’s resume was intimidating.
“I’m a little nervous up here with this international star,” he said, prompting a chuckle from the audience.
The line of questions for the two guests — led by senior students Harkirat Bhullar and Jiaqi Shang — were very in-depth, ranging from discussing the actions of the new Quebec provincial government that is being seen as prejudicial to issues of climate change around the world.
On the topic of Quebec’s recent push to prevent public servants from wearing religious symbols, Murabit brought up the “barbaric cultural practices” hotline developed by the previous Conservative federal government and how citizens worked together to beat back that sort of discrimination.
“I had never felt more proud to be Canadian when I saw the response from most Canadians,” Murabit said.
“We have to go through the steps of both transitional justice and reconciliation and recognizing the only way Canada can move forward is when it is very embracing of all cultures, communities, religions, races, genders.”
“If we don’t do that ... I don’t know how many of us would be as proud of Canada.”
Clark echoed Murabit’s sentiments, and said that a lot of those sentiments don’t trickle down to the municipal level.
And Murabit was not afraid to get the students involved in the conversations, often asking the crowd questions or turning the talking points back to Bhullar and Shang onstage.
“It was my first time interviewing such an inspiring person ... they were very communicative with us,” Shang said afterward in an interview.
“When you hear their perspectives, I think you question yourself a lot more and you reconsider your opinions,” Bhullar added.
Mixed in with the in-depth conversations were moments that seemed to genuinely shock the crowd, especially when Murabit stunned the crowd by saying the most cost-effective way to help prevent climate change is women’s reproductive health and education — one of the ground-level issues that Murabit backed up with research.
“We’re never going to get to the point where we get to implement long-term strategies if we don’t deal with the immediate threats,” she said.
Murabit said she tries to get back to Saskatoon as much as possible to visit her old home — and she’ll continue to do so when she can make the time.
… the only way Canada can move forward is when it is very embracing of all cultures, communities, religions, races, genders.
Dr. Alaa Murabit, UN High-Level Commissioner on Health Employment and Economic Growth, and Grade 12 student Jiaqi Shang discuss being good citizens while onstage Friday at Evan Hardy Collegiate.