Czech Republic, November 2008
State Visit to the Czech Republic
November 29 – December 2, 2008
"The unprecedented opening of borders that we have seen since the end of the last century is not enough to create a world that is free, once and for all, of every insidious form of individual and institutional discrimination. There is no doubt that exclusion remains one of the most glaring issues that our societies are facing as we enter the third millennium. [...] We have come together today to dream of a better future. Let us be daring together. Because I believe that building a world from which exclusion is forever banished and in which we embrace our differences like so many precious facets of the human experience, starts with this dream.
— Michaëlle Jean, excerpt from speech in Brno (Czech Republic), November 29, 2008.
Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, Governor General of Canada, and her husband, His Excellency Jean-Daniel Lafond, conducted State visits to the Czech Republic, as part of a series of State visits that also included the Republic of Hungary, the Slovak Republic, and the Republic of Slovenia (the latter for a brief stopover only, because of the political situation in Canada) from November 24 to December 3, 2008.
Art Matters : Political Art
“I could think of no better way of opening our dialogue than by watching a live performance of the one and only, Gipsy.cz. I think Gipsy.cz’s success can be attributed to the group’s incredible ability to weave together traditional Romani music and hip hop and to share a message that resonates across cultures and generations.
It is an ability that demonstrates the infectious capacity of young artists to bring people together. And that same spirit of togetherness inspired the motto I chose as governor general of Canada: ‘Breaking down solitudes’. ‘Breaking down solitudes’ is about tearing down the walls of prejudice, hatred and indifference. ‘Breaking down solitudes’ is about abandoning the narrow notions of ‘everyone for himself or for his clan’ so prevalent today. ‘Breaking down solitudes’ is about working hand-in-hand towards our dream of a better world.
During my visits to communities across Canada, Latin America, Africa, and Europe as head of State, I have been so impressed to see how much that philosophy resonates among many youth who are implementing innovative projects to address global challenges. That is why I am convinced that youth must be considered part of the solution and valuable partners—not only in the future, but here and now.”
— Michaëlle Jean, December 2, 2008
"Discussing cultural diplomacy can be provocative in a world in which culture is too often relegated to the sidelines and seen as an unnecessary leisure activity, one of idleness, unproductiveness and luxury that we treat ourselves to when everything else is said and done.
This is is completely backwards! Culture is not something we have; it is something we are. It is essential to our very survival! Whether through education, creation, self-searching, sharing with others, searching for meaning or spiritual enlightenment, ever since our ancestors made the very first drawings on cave walls, arts and culture have helped human beings interact.
We see culture as our first attempt and last resort to clear up misunderstandings with our fellow humans, so it is the civilized world’s first diplomatic action. It brings dialogue to conflicts and helps build lasting, national or international peace.
That is my creed and it is one I share with my wife, the Governor General, and with all those who have joined us at the Art Matters forums we have held here in Canada and abroad during official visits."
— Jean-Daniel Lafond, December 3, 2008.
- Canadian Cultural Diversity Gender, Minority and Public Life, Brno, November 29, 2008 (PDF)
- Muzeum Romské Kultury (Museum of Romani Culture), Brno, November 29, 2008 (PDF)
- State Dinner, Prague (Czech Republic), December 1st, 2008 (PDF)
- Youth Dialogue on Civic Engagement, Prague, December 2, 2008 (PDF)
- Multicultural Dialogue Conference on the Integration of Minorities in the Urban Centres, Prague, December 2, 2008 (PDF)