October 26, 2008
Saint Mary’s University granted an Honourary Doctorate of Civil Laws to General John de Chastelain at its October, 2008 Convocation. In his address to the graduates, General de Chastelain emphasized the important role education plays in the resolving conflicts and promoting peace.
"If negotiation is an integral part of conflict resolution, education is an integral part of conflict avoidance," he said. "It is my feeling, from what I’ve seen over the years, that education is key in this regard."
As an example, he acknowledged the valuable work done by Peaceful Schools International. Saint Mary’s is the first university both nationally and internationally to have met Peaceful Schools International membership criteria. The organization is dedicated to the development and implementation of conflict resolutions skills and programs within more than 270 different schools locally, regionally and internationally. Dr. Hetty van Gurp, who received an Honorary Doctorate of Civil Laws from Saint Marys in the fall of 2005, founded the organization.
"The whole concept of conflict resolution in all its aspects is a simple one, teaching those who are in difficult situations to care," said General de Chastelain. Peaceful Schools International has been doing this for a number of years. In recognition for the conflict resolution work done by Saint Mary’s University and its ongoing support of Peaceful Schools International, General de Chastelain, a member of the organizations international advisory board, presented the university with a Peaceful Schools International flag.
Saint Mary’s University Student Association President Chris MacDougall accepted the flag on behalf of the university. The flag will become part of the universitys permanent flag collection displayed at all convocations. General de Chastelains emphasis on promoting peace and a civil society throughout the world was a message well suited for the graduating class that included more than 100 students from countries other than Canada. (Source: SMU Press Release, October 26, 2008 www.smu.ca)