UN rep­re­sen­ta­tive vis­its alma mater to dis­cuss cit­i­zen­ship with stu­dents

Regina Leader-Post - - CITY + REGION - MATT OL­SON maol­son@post­media.com

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.

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