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Samuel Getachew

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The Former Bay Street Lawyer Devoted to Change

Posted: 08/04/2012 8:50 am

If empowering, aspiring journalists, such as myself, to blog in the pages of the Huffington Post was not enough to celebrate, I am excited HuffPost is continuing its tradition with its HuffPost Canada Impact. This would allow us to highlight rare Canadians who are making real impact in the lives of Canadians and the world.

In my rare observation on the role of a Canadian in the world -- I have found that we are at our best in the rarest of places. It might be in the villages of Africa, helping distribute the most basic necessities of life or in the most dangerous of places in times of war keeping peace as envisioned by our Nobel Peace Prize winning Canadian Diplomat, Lester B. Pearson, generations ago. Or it might be here at home helping our newest Canadians achieve their very best.

Two years ago, in the midst of a municipal electoral marathon where I was a candidate, I met such a person that fits HuffPost Canada Impact's motto: "One story can spark a flame; one person can make a difference." What a difference he is making.

Bruce Alexander is his name and he is helping create a movement of new Canadians to have a huge impact in the Canada of tomorrow. For the last several decades, the 74-year-old former Bay St. lawyer has mentored a slew of new Canadian women change their lives and the lives of their communities through the power of an education.

He has mentored a large number of them with a group he named as -- Shadow Cabinet. The group is a collection of young women who are interested in making an impact in the world. Its goal is to create a forum for multilateral learning, in order to become better informed leaders. It hopes to fill the gender gap for women in many forums, especially in public service.

The young people he has mentored have gone on to graduate schools such as medical and law schools to prestigious schools such as Oxford as Rhodes scholars. He has also arranged an audience for them with the Governor General as well as former Prime Minister Joe Clark -- a law school friend whom he later advised during the negotiation of the Charlottetown Accord.

In addition, he has also been involved with the John Brooks Foundation -- a group that has an objective of motivating students of African descent to excel. He seems to understand that the only way one could have an impact in a young person's life is via an education. He counts his involvement with this group as one of his greatest achievements.

Earlier this academic year, I had the privilege of nominating him, along with one of the young person he has mentored over the years, Alpha Abebe, and who is now at Oxford University completing her Phd, and former Prime Minister Joe Clark for an honorary degree from Queens University.

In his acceptance speech, he spoke of Canada that is fragile and that "could disappear if the sense of community we share with other Canadian is not sustained. This requires that we know and care about our fellow citizens and the values and traditions that we hold in common."

To the new graduates -"Become better acquainted with your country - make a list of Canadian places you have not been to and plan to visit them. Take your winter vacations in Canada and visit Quebec City, Mount Tremblant, the Rockies and Whistler and all the other great ski destinations in between."

In words and deeds, Bruce Alexander is a Canadian worth celebrating!

 

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