Speaker: Honorable Ms. Flora MacDonald
Date of the Event: Saturday, October 28, 2006

About the Speaker: Ms. MacDonald is a former member of Parliament, federal Minister, life-long educationist and social worker, Advisor to CARE Canada, champion of the cause of women's equality around the world, and recipient of the Govt. of India 'Padma Shree Award" for her distinguished service as a member of the Board of Directors and the Advisory Council of the Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute (SICI) See her profile below.

Spoke on: Ms. MacDonald spoke at the ICFC on Saturday, October 28, 2006. [Listen to recorded video.]

Topic: Ms. MacDonand will speak about her personal experiences with "What makes the state of Arunachal Pradesh unique?"See the synopsis of his talk below.

Watch the Recorded Video
Ms. Flora MacDonald's Presentation + Q & A
Meeting Kickoff (by Raj Dilawri)
Speaker Introduction (by Brian Dickson)

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Main Event — Ms. Flora MacDonald's Lecture

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ICFC DISCLAIMER: The content and views expressed in this presentation are entirely those of the speakers and individual members of the audience. ICFC has no responsibility for any comments and interpretations.

Personal Profile of Dr. Flora MacDonald

Dr. MacDonald served as a member of Parliament for Kingston and the Islands; she has held three cabinet positions: secretary of state for External Affairs, minister of Employment and Immigration, and minister of Communications.

Born and educated in North Sydney, Nova Scotia, Dr. MacDonald is a graduate of Empire Business College and the National Defence College, majoring in Canadian and international studies. She holds honorary degrees from several institutions, including Queen's, McMaster and Acadia universities and the University of Edinburgh, and honorary Doctor of Law from Memorial University of Newfoundland.

After her career in Parliament, Dr. MacDonald was visiting fellow at the Centre for Canadian Studies of the University of Edinburgh and special adviser to the Vancouver-based Commonwealth of Learning.

From 1990 to 1994 she was the host of the popular television series North South, a weekly human affairs series featuring countries in the developing world. She has chaired the International Development Research Centre and served on the Carnegie Commission on the Prevention of Deadly Conflict, and is chair of Future Generations and the World Federalists of Canada. She is on the board or the advisory council of the Shastri Indo-Canada Advisory Council, the Canadian Council for Refugees, CARE Canada, CODE, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, Friends of the National Library, National Museum of Scotland, and UNIFEM. She is also honorary president, Association of Canadian Clubs.

Dr. MacDonald was named an officer of the Order of Canada in April 1993, a companion of the Order of Canada in 1999, and named to the Order of Ontario in 1995. In 1999 she was awarded the Pearson Peace Medal.

In 2004, Government of India conferred the ‘Padma Shri Award’ — one of the highest civilian awards in India, conferred for distinguished service and excellence in different fields of endeavour — to Honourable Flora MacDonald.

Flora MacDonald is on the Board of Directors and the Advisory Council of the Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute (SICI), a bilateral India-Canada education and research institute set up in 1968. The aim of the Institute is to support and promote the advancement of knowledge and understanding of one country amongst the scholars and students of the other. Flora MacDonald has contributed actively to the progress and growth of the SICI over the years, and continues to provide valuable advice as the Chairman of the Advisory Council.

About Ms. MacDonald's Association with India

During the course of her career, Flora MacDonald has travelled frequently to India. Currently, her main involvement in India centers around the following:

  • Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute
  • Future Generations – An American NGO which provides training in community development (health, literacy, conservation, micro credit) with projects in Arunachal Pradesh & Uttaranchal.
  • Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, with headquarters in New Delhi.
  • HelpAge India (till recently Flora MacDonald was Chairperson of HelpAge International).

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Synopsis of the Talk

Topic: Personal experiences with "What makes the state of Arunachal Pradesh unique?"

Arunachal Pradesh (AP) is part of what are called the Seven Sister States of the Northeast of India.

AP is the most north-easterly state of India, wedged between Tibet and Myanmar and up against the border with China. It has been designated prohibited territory because of the potential threat of invasion from China (the last time that occurred was in 1962). In the past AP has been referred to as India's "Forgotten State"; its name means "Land of the dawn-lit mountains."

Within its borders is to be found one of the richest concentrations of bio-diversity in the world. 65% of Arunachalis belong to 20 major-collective tribes and 82 tribes, who had a heritage of a diverse and rich culture, language and beliefs. Most of them are either of Tibetan or of Thai-Burmese origin. Various tribal groups reside in the deep and fertile valleys that dissect the high mountains of the eastern Himalayas; to reach them I travel along the Brahamaputra River in a small Zodiac for hundreds of miles, sleeping on the river banks at night.

An NGO that I chair, Future Generations, has been present in Arunanchal Pradesh for some years, providing training for villagers in health, hygiene and environmental programs.

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