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The Honourable George J. Furey, Q.C.

Speaker of the Senate

   

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Closing remarks for the Address to Parliament by Ms. Malala Yousafzai

Malala, Mr. Prime Minister, Madame Grégoire Trudeau, Madam Chief Justice, Excellencies, hon. senators, members of the House of Commons, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.

Malala, it is a great honour to welcome you here today. On behalf of all my parliamentary colleagues, I want to thank you for your inspiring speech.

Thank you for your inspiring words. The message which you bring resonates around the world. It is a message that empowers people to distinguish truth from lies and right from wrong.

The last time we gathered in this place was in June, when President Obama addressed us, standing where you stood today. We thanked him for his accomplishments during his eight year term, reflecting on a presidency that was soon to come to an end.

 

Today, we are here for a different purpose. Today is not so much about the past as it is about the future.

In these troubling times, it can be difficult to be optimistic. There is a great deal of fear in the world. Fear, as we all know, is a very powerful emotion. It feeds intolerance. It breeds division. As you, Malala, know too well, intolerance leads to unspeakable acts of brutality and oppression.

However, the clear antidote to fear is knowledge.

The pursuit of knowledge through education is an undeniable good. Education reveals that our differences are a source of strength, that ideas are exciting and enriching. Where it is allowed to flourish, education improves the lives of people everywhere. It allows women and girls to be equal to men and boys, to enable everyone to make equal contributions to make this a better world that we all live in.

The recognition of education's benefits must be taught, and taught courageously, especially in a world where falsehoods are so often held out as facts.

The French writer and philosopher Antoine de Saint-Exupéry once said that if you want to build a ship, do not send people to collect wood, do not assign them jobs, do not asssign them tasks. Teach them, rather, to long for the immensity of the sea.

Your extraordinary example, Malala, teaches all of us to appreciate the value of education and long for the immensity of knowledge.

Collectively, we should all strive to further education in the world, to awaken reason where it sleeps, and to help improve the suffering of the poor and the oppressed.

We thank you once again, Malala, for your courage and determination in fighting for everyone, especially for the rights of girls and women to be educated in your country and around the world. While we do indeed face great challenges, your leadership shines a very bright light in an otherwise dark place.

We are so proud to have you as an honorary Canadian. No matter what our age, whether we are young or old, you are an example for us all. We all aspire to be Malala.

Thank you very much.