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Empathy: Turning Compassion into Action

Tegler Student Centre

April 13, 2023 6:00 pm - April 13, 2023 7:30 pm

A Fireside Chat and Book Signing with the Right Honourable David Johnston, 28th Governor General of Canada

Join us for an evening of conversation as the Right Honourable David Johnston, 28th Governor General of Canada, discusses his most personal and timely book to date with Dr. Cecilia Bukutu, Director of the Public Health department at Concordia University of Edmonton (CUE). 

Following the fireside chat, we invite you to join us for a meet-and-greet with book signing by the Rt. Hon. David Johnston. 

Tickets available through Eventbrite. The $30+GST registration fee includes a hardcover copy of Empathy: Turning Compassion into Action.

A limited number of complimentary seats plus books are reserved for CUE students, courtesy of the Concordia Students’ Association. Please register at cuedmonton.com/book-event to reserve your seat.

About the Speaker

The Right Honourable David Johnston, C.C.

Governor General of Canada, 2010-2017

Chair of the Rideau Hall Foundation

The Right Honourable David Johnston was Canada’s 28th governor general. During his mandate, he established the Rideau Hall Foundation (RHF), a registered charity that supports and amplifies the Office of the Governor General in its work to connect, honour and inspire Canadians. Today, he is actively involved as Chair of the RHF Board of Directors.

In 2018, he was appointed Colonel to the Royal Canadian Regiment. Prior to his installation as governor general, Mr. Johnston was a professor of law for 45 years, and served as President of the University of Waterloo for two terms, Principal of McGill University for 3 terms. He was president of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada and of the Conférence des recteurs et des principaux des universités du Québec. He was the first non-U.S. citizen to be elected chair at Harvard University’s Board of Overseers from which he graduated in 1963 magna cum laude and was twice named all-American in hockey and was named to Harvard’s Athletic Hall of Fame. He holds degrees from Harvard, Cambridge and Queen’s and has received more than three dozen honorary degrees or fellowships.

He has authored or co-authored more than 30 books. He was named Companion of the Order of Canada in 1997. He has chaired or served on many provincial and federal task forces and committees, and has served on the boards of more than a dozen public companies. He has been married for 58 years to Sharon and they have 5 daughters and 14 grandchildren.

About the Moderator

Dr. Cecilia Bukutu

Faculty of Science, Department of Public Health

Concordia University of Edmonton

Dr. Cecilia Bukutu serves as the Director of the Public Health Department at Concordia University of Edmonton (CUE). In 2022, she was awarded CUE’s Gerald S. Krispin Research Award for her dedication to students, researchers, and educators.

In recent years, Dr. Bukutu has undertaken a number of public health-focused research activities, including projects focused on health information-seeking behavior among post-secondary students during the COVID-19 pandemic; food allergy knowledge, practices, attitudes and training in Alberta food establishments; and polystyrene management and disposal options in Alberta.

Dr. Bukutu has also been actively involved in a number of knowledge translation initiatives, including the Alberta Youth COVID-19 VacciNATION Campaign, funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada; and the Speak Science Simply outreach program, funded by NSERC.

Dr. Bukutu obtained a Bachelor of Environmental Health from Flinders University (Australia) and a Master and Doctor of Philosophy in Epidemiology from Cambridge University (United Kingdom).

About the Book

The 28th Governor General’s most personal and timely book to date: a passionate and practical guide for turning empathy into action.

As the world stumbles through the most severe pandemic of the last century, threatened by teetering economies, torn by political division, separated by unequal access to resources, and wrestling with issues as diverse as racism, gender, cybercrime, and climate change, the nations that best adapt and prosper are those in which empathy is fully alive and widely active. Written for a post-pandemic world, Empathy is a book about learning to be empathetic and then turning that empathy into action. Based on the personal experiences of author David Johnston, the book explores how awakening to the transformative power of listening and caring permanently changes individuals, families, communities, and nations.

A how-to manual for a world craving kindness, Empathy offers proof of the inherent goodness of people, and shows how exercising the instinct for kindness creates societies that are both smart and caring. Through poignant stories and crisp observations, David contends that “Everyone has power over some things that other people don’t. When they learn ways to turn that power into action, they change the future dramatically.”

With clear and practical focus, Empathy looks at a host of issues that demand our attention, from education and immigration, to healthcare, the law, policing, business ethics, and criminal justice. In each of these areas, Johnston highlights the deeper understandings that have arisen during the COVID-19 crisis, with sharp emphasis on the positive and negative lessons now in crisp focus. Convinced that empathy is the fastest route to peace and progress in all their forms, David ends each short chapter with a set of practical steps the reader can take to make the world better, one deliberate action at a time.

Extraordinarily positive, though not always rosy, this is a guidebook to goodness – for individuals, communities, and nation-states. Anchored in personal and professional anecdotes, Empathy is actually a memoir cleverly disguised as a self-help book for humanity. As someone who has witnessed the most extreme consequences imaginable of the absence of empathy, I say that with both deep respect and gratitude for its practical value.
— Romeo Dallaire