Speech by Terry Farmer

Mr. Chancellor, Mr. President, Madam Minister, Honoured guests, graduates of the class of 2007, Ladies and Gentlemen. I was absolutely floored when I heard that Royal Roads wanted to confer this honour on me and I very humbly accept it. I must say Mr. President that I am extremely proud to be wearing a medieval gown and funny hat and do not feel sheepish at all, especially the day after Halloween.

I would like to thank my family for supporting me all these years, especially my wife Leslie, my daughter Mandy and my son Devlin. My brothers and sister and their spouses have traveled from Seattle, Whistler and Sidney, B.C. to be here. We also have a number of our close friends in attendance and I feel so very honoured that you have all come to witness this very important event in my life. Thank you.

I have always been very impressed with Royal Roads University as it is a very modem and "with it" university. Royal Roads specializes in educating students in their early or mid-careers, particularly at the master level, and equipping them with special skills to excel in their chosen careers. I have personal knowledge of the great benefits of a Royal Roads education as my daughter, Mandy, completed her MBA at Royal Roads. Mandy works for (or I should now say, with me) and during this two year period at Royal Roads I could see Mandy`s skills skyrocket. I was so impressed with her new expertise and confidence. Mandy received her undergraduate degree from McGill and has actually attended four full time university`s plus taking courses at three others and Mandy emphatically claims that ROYAL Roads was the very best.

My son Devlin is a lawyer and living in Boston as his wife has spent the last seven years working on her Doctorate at Harvard. I couldn`t resist phoning and saying that "I beat
you," however, then I felt so guilty as I know the long hours, sacrifices, and stress that it takes to complete these degrees.

To the graduates here today I applaud and congratulate you and I am honoured to address you. I realize that most of you are now back to excelling in your chosen careers and I wish you the very best. However, as life moves on over the years do not hesitate to change your area of work should opportunities arise. When they do you should do your due diligence and then strike out quickly, especially if you have a chance to get out on your own and become an entrepreneur. I did this 21 years ago and it was the most thrilling and challenging stage of my career (aside from getting married of course).

I believe that to achieve a fulfilling and satisfied life you must balance your work with family and your community. I am sure that you know the importance of your family and so now I would like to address your contribution to your community.

Royal Roads has emphasized sustainability in your studies and that is so important to make this world a better place to live. You can achieve a lot towards these goals through your work but also so much can be done by contributing to your community. There are many areas that governments do not fund and to achieve the sustainability for our children and grandchildren and to improve our communities we must volunteer our time and expertise.

There are many ways to contribute and many areas of interest. Here are a few of my thoughts for you to consider, in no order of importance.

Business organizations
Being a businessman, I have been very involved in chambers of commerce and tourist related organizations. This has allowed me to meet and work with many others in business and especially in tourism as we have all worked together to better our industry. These are great forums to bounce new ideas off of our peers, to better our own organizations and our industry. Often this takes the role of advocacy as frequently governments do not understand the industry we are in and unwittingly throw road blocks in our way. These organizations do not necessarily have to be business related but can also be organizations of like minded people.

Sporting events
I have been a strong supporter of sporting events. Victoria continues to attract world class sporting events that represent great opportunities for all of us to participate in many different ways. Volunteers from the Commonwealth Games in ’94 are still gathering to share what have become lifelong friendships. How many of our national athletes found their inspiration to represent their country in those games or at the under 20 world cup this past summer? It is ironic as I am definitely not a jock, not from lack of interest but lack of coordination. I was one of those guys in school that was always in the last half of the team to be selected. (I was always kicking at the gravel as the better guys were selected). However, this also developed drive and determination in me and in 1989 I was voted Sportsman of the Year by the Victoria Sports Council, which I thought was pretty good for a non jock . I do work out and keep fit, which is important for all of us. What we learn as children we carry with us throughout our lives and I believe all youngsters should have the opportunity to learn various sports so they can develop their skills and not be intimidated by others. You can help by assisting your children`s teams; remember it is not just your own child you are helping, but your community as well. It is also very satisfying to help organize these events and coordinate volunteers, and many just want to be asked and it gives the elderly etc., such a sense of pride to know that they can still contribute to society.

Charities and fund raising
There is no end to this need. Healthy communities are communities that take care of all aspects of our society. Find the cause that is meaningful to you, something that you believe in, something that will help you directly or someone you care for and ask what you can do to help. Unfortunately governments do not adequately fund so many areas. This can be for hospitals, universities, YM/YWCA, cancer, heart, the arts, the homeless, food banks to name a few. You cannot do everything and you have to prioritize your time so that you still have the balance for your family, your work and your community.

The arts
This includes all types of music, such as the symphony, the opera, dance, schools of music etc. My friends find these organizations most satisfying and desperately needed in our community.

The Environment
Gone are the days when things go into the trash to be someone else’s problem. The organizations and movements dedicated to our environment are many and they would all welcome you. But it can be as simple as picking up garbage in the park or on a beach - by doing so you are part of your community and its future. As graduates of Royal Roads, you are more aware of these issues than most. The ramifications are too numerous for me to go into detail here but it also includes at work and in your every day lives.

There are also many areas I have not mentioned but the message I want to emphasize to you is to give back. By doing so you will also personally gain by;

  • personal satisfaction in knowing that you have helped the less fortunate
  • meeting new people and business contacts
  • a forum for new ideas
  • becoming better informed about trends and the needs in your community
  • opportunities to explore other areas of life which you would not normally be exposed to
  • advocacy
  • learning unexpected new skills
  • becoming better known in your community

In conclusion I recommend that you lead a well rounded life. It will be a win/win situation for you and when you are old, and believe me you will all be old someday, you will have great memories, friends and feel extremely satisfied with what you have done with your life. Every little bit helps. You don’t have to find a cure for cancer to participate. You just need to take that first step. Once you do you will be amazed by what you receive in return. Remember what Winston Churchill famously said we make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.