Highlights of the Governor General's State Visit to Israel

JERUSALEM, Israel, Nov. 3, 2016 /CNW/ - Their Excellencies the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, and Mrs. Sharon Johnston completed the very first State visit of a Governor General to Israel. Together, with Canadian delegates from key sectors inline with the objectives of the visit, they have reaffirmed Canada's role as a steadfast friend of Israel, and demonstrated its commitment to enhance bilateral relations and to uphold a two-state solution.

This historic State visit highlighted how much Canada values its relationship with Israel, based on shared values of respect and inclusivity,with strong educational, economic, cultural and social ties. There was a particular focus on the great potential of Canada as an innovation partner for Israel, which is a renowned startup nation. It was also a moment to engage with the community of Canadians who live, work and support Israel.

"This visit showed the deep linkages between Canada and Israel. Our two countries are long time friends and active partners in so many fields. We share common aspirations and values, one of which is the importance of diversity and inclusion. Touching specifically on these themes, my meeting with President Reuven Rivlin was very warm, cordial and memorable. My discussion with Yuli-Yoel Edelstein, the Speaker of the Knesset, was an opportunity to share views about our democratic and parliamentary systems," said the Governor General.

"It was a great honour to be the first Canadian to plant a tree in the Grove of Nations, a symbol of the friendship and genuine respect between Canada and Israel. On a more personal note, Sharon and I were deeply moved by our visit to Yad Vashem, which was built by survivors of the Holocaust. This memorial is filled with troubling stories of loss and hate, but also of hope and determination."

"In a world of instant and digital communication, face-to-face visits like this are so important to renew exchanges in trade, innovation, education and research, all of which are grounded in our people-to-people relations. These priorities were reinforced during my meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Nethanyahu, where innovation was the focal point of our truly engaging conversation."

Here are some of the highlights of the State visit's program.

Innovation and Diversity: Two Key Ingredients for Striving Nations
The shared commitment to a culture of innovation and to a knowledge economy was at the heart of many conversations and events during this visit. The Governor General and members of the Canadian delegation visited Phinergy where they learned more about the company's aluminum-air batteries, and its successful collaboration with the Canadian and international subsidiaries of Alcoa. His Excellency had the occasion to drive one of the cars using this technology.

Later on, students from various parts of the world studying at Technion – Israel Institute of Technology talked about their diverse backgrounds and how they strive for success in their studies at the oldest university in the Middle East. It was an occasion to demonstrate how the combination of education and diversity is a vital ingredient to inclusive innovation.

While at Technion, His Excellency received an honorary doctorate for his contributions to the Canada-Israel innovation relationship. "The pace of change and the many challenges facing our world are proof positive: we need new ways of doing things, and we need to gear our economies toward creating value," said the Governor General in his acceptance speech. "I believe the future belongs to those who embrace diversity and who build cultures of innovation with global reach. Israel leads by example in this regard. It has become an innovative nation because of necessity, but also because of the diversity and creativity of its people."

Again on the theme of diversity and inclusion, Her Excellency visited HIPPY Israel which offers early childhood programs to thousands of families among Israel's native-born Arab and Jewish communities. She also visited Hand In Hand Haïfa Preschool, which uses a teaching model based on multiculturalism with an Hebrew-Arabic educational program.

Science and Research: An Important Area of Collaboration Between Canada and Israel
The Governor General and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu witnessed the signing of two agreements, one between Mitacs and the Canada-Israel Industrial Research and Development Foundation (CIIRDF) for industrial research collaboration between Canadian and Israeli companies. The second, between Mitacs and the Israel's Ministry of Science, Technology and Space (MOST), established an academic research collaboration between Canadian and Israeli universities. Both agreements showcase the level of research collaboration that exists between Israel and Canada.

The Institute For Medical Research, Israel-Canada (IMRIC) at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem was another stop on the visit. IMRIC is an stellar example of groundbreaking and collaborative research in the medical field by pulling resources to fight diseases. A concrete example of this collaboration is a joint research on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder with the University of Manitoba.

Next Stop for the Visit to the Middle East
Their Excellencies and the accompanying delegation will be visiting Ramallah in the West Bank on November 4 and 5, to reaffirm Canada's development and humanitarian support to the Palestinians. The first part of this visit to the Middle East was in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan from October 29 to November 1.

For the complete remarks by the Governor General and for photos and videos of the events that took place in Israel, visit www.gg.ca.

Follow GGDavidJohnston and RideauHall on Facebook and Twitter.

SOURCE Governor General of Canada

For further information: Media information: Julie Rocheleau, Rideau Hall Press Office, 613-998-7280, 613-302-0249 (cell), julie.rocheleau@gg.ca


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