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Honorary degree citation - Marc Garneau

By: Nadia Bhuiyan, December 2004

Mr. Chancellor, I have the honour to present to you Dr. Marc Garneau, Engineer, Astronaut, first Canadian in Space, President of the Canadian Space Agency and Chancellor of Carleton University.

He has seen sixteen sunrises and sixteen sunsets in a single day. He's been around the world... over 460 times. Traveled over twelve million miles. He's been weightless for over 677 hours. He has lived the oldest dream of humankind. To explore the universe, to leave our planet. To go to space.

It is a dream we've all had. At some moment in our childhood, after looking into the heavens and seeing the stars we decide with immutable youthful conviction, that when we grow up, we will become an astronaut.

Somewhere along the way, the dream migrates to the back of our minds, it does not go away, but it visits us less. Maybe as our plane takes off on a business trip, maybe under the stars or as we camp with our family, or maybe in our own children as they inform us with the same conviction that, "One day, mom, dad, I'm going to be an astronaut."

Today, we honour a man, who held onto that dream, and through a love of science and a faith in his fellowman, turned it into a reality. Dr. Marc Garneau. (Applause).

Dr. Garneau earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering Physics from the Royal Military College of Kingston in 1970; he followed this with a doctorate in Electrical Engineering from the Imperial College of Science and Technology in London England.

In 1983, during a distinguished career in the Navy, specializing in naval communications and electronic warfare equipment systems, Dr. Garneau was selected from 4 300 Canadian applicants to begin astronaut training. And in October of the next year, he became the first Canadian in space as a payload specialist aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger.

His undeniable intellect and scientific ingenuity, combined with his grace under pressure made him an excellent astronaut.

After retiring from the Navy in 1989, Dr. Garneau was again selected to begin training for a space flight, this time as Mission Specialist aboard the Endeavour, where, among other things, he operated the Canadarm to retrieve the Spartan satellite.

Dr. Garneau would travel to space once more, in the. year 2000. This was NASA's fifth mission dedicated to the assembly of the space station. In fact, this mission was marked by the first time a resident crew on the space station interacted with a shuttle crew. It was an event of international significance and goodwill.

Of course, those of us who have never been to space besides in our dreams, imagine the most amazing part of the journey would be looking back at out planet. The wonder of the world contained in a single eyeful... we imagine the beauty of it as it gently turns beneath us.

But it was more than just beauty that struck Dr. Garneau. Herein lies the difference between the dream and the reality. For perhaps in beholding its beauty he was able to feel its fragility: Ozone depletion, dwindling natural resources, a build-up of greenhouse gases. All these are measurable realities with the instruments he and other scientists have brought into space.

Back on Earth, Dr. Garneau has taken on the position as head of The Canadian Space Agency. In this capacity he can act on his concern for the environment by ensuring our continued presence in space, funneling the information we gather there to the institutions and researchers who can act on it.

He turned the dream of space travel into his reality, and we watched with awe and admiration as this outstanding Canadian represented us with grace and strength. We are glad he has found anew dream, improving the environment and life here on earth through continued exploration of the solar system.

Dr. Garneau knows that it is the dream of scientists and explorers that push humankind forward. As he himself said, "Our scientists, engineers and astronauts are first of all dreamers, but they are more, they are also capable of acting upon those dreams."

Dr. Garneau is a great communicator who is unselfish-with his experiences, inspiring a new generation of Canadian kids to dream of space. His accomplishments move the rest of us to continue to dream, no matter what our age or profession, because so much is yet to be done to improve our world and understand our position in the Universe.

Today we honour a man who has seen the world, seen it in a single eyeful, and who thinks about the world as a single clear, unified thought.

Mr. Chancellor, on behalf of Senate and the Board of Governors, it is my privilege and an honour to present to you Dr. Garneau, so that you may confer upon him the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.

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