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June 15, 2018
A Proud Moment for Branksome Hall
“This country is a social innovation,” The Right Honourable David Johnston told an audience of 700 members of the Branksome Community. “The idea that diversity can work for you, and not against you, is a great lesson for Canada and the world.”

Branksome Hall welcomed the 28th Governor General of Canada to our Green Carpet ceremony. The annual end-of-the-year celebration honours students from Grades 7 to 11 with awards in the areas of leadership, languages, sports, and the arts.

Following his address on the topic of innovation, Mr. Johnston and his wife, Sharon Johnston, participated in a question and answer session with students. Among them, the Johnston’s were asked about the importance of bilingualism in Canada and on learning a second language. “It’s one of the most intellectual things you can do,” replied Mrs. Johnston, as the couple recalled the challenges and rewards of ensuring that their own five daughters learned French.

Mr. Johnston noted that being multilingual builds empathy, “Minds are like parachutes, they work best when open,” he added.

When asked for advice on staying optimistic in these uncertain political times, “To thine own self be true,” Mr. Johnston said, quoting Shakespeare. He advised living by one’s own best values, such as Canadian values of being smart, caring and resilient. “Become elected!” was Mrs. Johnston’s frank advice.

In typical Branksome fashion, the conversation went from thoughtful and globally minded to lighthearted, when a student asked: “What do you two like to do in your spare time?” Mrs. Johnston explained that they love to cycle together, and recently went on a 40 kilometer ride to get coffee. “You all have a commodity: your mental and physical health – how are you going to invest in it?” she said, to the enthusiastic audience.

The Johnstons stayed to congratulate Emily Ash, winner of this year’s Silver Duke of Edinburgh award.

“I have been Principal of Branksome Hall for 20 years and this is one of my proudest moments.” Karen Jurjevich said as she thanked the Johnstons for their inspiring words.

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