Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada

StFX celebrates grand opening of The Brian Mulroney Institute of Government and Mulroney Hall

September 18th, 2019
The Right Honourable Brian Mulroney

As the Right Honourable Brian Mulroney returned to StFX, his alma mater, on September 18, 2019 to celebrate the grand opening of The Brian Mulroney Institute of Government and Mulroney Hall, speaker after speaker spoke about how transformative the $52-million state-of-the-art building and its academic programs, including a unique institution for government and leadership, is for the students of today and tomorrow.   

“We are extremely grateful to Prime Minister Mulroney and his family for making this vision a reality. It’s a project that entrenches StFX as a national and international destination for leadership, receiving widespread support both at home in Canada and from around the world,” StFX Interim President Dr. Kevin Wamsley said during the opening ceremony. 

“The Brian Mulroney Institute of Government and Mulroney Hall provide new opportunities for the StFX community, a platform from which we can deliver our academic mission in new and exciting ways.

“This project is an investment in people,” he said, and an investment in scholarship, research and innovation. Already, the four-storey, 93,000 square foot glass-walled building, which took two years to construct, and the academic contributions from the Brian Mulroney Institute of Government have taken StFX to the next level, Dr. Wamsley said. 

Dr. Kevin Wamsley

NEW OPPORTUNTIES

In an emotional and inspiring speech, Mr. Mulroney told the crowd it is a special moment in his life to participate in this ceremony “marking the opening not only of splendid new buildings at StFX, a place I love, but, more importantly, the beginning of grand new opportunities for young Canadians and others from around the globe to learn, lead and help build a better world for us all.” 

Mr. Mulroney personally raised $100 million to create the cornerstone of StFX’s Xaverian Commons Project, and he expressed sincere thanks and gratitude to the generosity of donors who made this day possible. 

He also noted a highly impressive and generous new scholarship and bursary program, some $16 million, will help many young students acquire the education StFX founders dreamed of. Over 200 scholarships are available annually, including awards specifically designed for marginalized populations such as Aboriginal and African Nova Scotian communities. 



Officially cutting the ribbon

EDUCATION KEY PATH

Mr. Mulroney became emotional when he recalled a long-ago conversation with his father while growing up in Baie-Comeau. Times were not easy and he told his father of a new apprenticeship program being launched at the mill where his father worked as an electrician, where children of employees could train as tradesmen.

“My father’s reply is engraved in my memory: ‘I know, Brian, that times are tough and we could sure use the extra money you would bring in. But I have learned one thing: the only way out of a paper mill town is through a university door – and you are going to university.’ And that is how I wound up at StFX.”  

Mr. Mulroney says when he graduated from StFX, he had no money, no connections and no influence. “But I had two things of far greater worth: a degree from StFX and the values that had been inculcated into us by a superb faculty and university leaders, here in Antigonish.”

He spoke of the transformative experience he had at StFX, a young man who arrived on campus with “a cardboard suitcase,” wearing the only blazer he owned. 

“For me, arriving at StFX, in the fall of 1955 – 64 years ago this month – I knew it opened the door to a wider world.”

POWER OF IDEAS

At StFX, he says, he learned about the power of ideas to transform our country, from one century to the next. He learned that big ideas are about leadership and fundamental change.

What was it about it StFX, then and now, that attracted many of the best and the brightest, he asked? “For me, and thousands like me, that’s just what StFX represented: Not a big city, but a big opportunity.

“And today is all about how the Brian Mulroney Institute of Government can help StFX enhance its role in this vital area of opportunity and leadership so as to better serve the citizens of our beloved nation and the wider world.”

This institute, he said, is open to all and their ideas: “Liberals, Progressive Conservatives, Conservatives, Greens, NDP and others, will find a home here marked by fairness, objectivity and scholarship of the highest order. 

“It was a high honour for me to be of some service to this special place.” 

FOCUS ON STUDENTS 

StFX Board of Governors Chair Mike Boyd, one of a number of people to speak during the opening, remembered as a student meeting Mr. Mulroney, back on campus for his 25th Homecoming only weeks after being named Canada’s 18th prime minister. 

“Then as now, he demonstrated his focus on students,” Mr. Boyd recalled. 

“For us, it certainly was inspiring to see someone from a small school, someone from our school, could achieve such success.”

In her remarks, the Hon. Caroline Mulroney, MPP, Minister of Transportation and Minister of Francophone Affairs, Government of Ontario, noted how StFX really opened the world for her father.

From light-hearted to serious, the grand opening ceremonies featured many emotional moments

LEARN TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE

“In many ways, StFX is where it all started for my dad,” she said, as she too offered thanks to all who helped make this day possible and subsequently for their role in helping shape the leaders of tomorrow. 

“It’s here where my dad learned how to make a difference.”

The Hon. Caroline Mulroney

She said it came to no one’s surprise that StFX was to be the home for her father’s Prime Ministerial Library. But she said the family believed her dad’s legacy required something more, something that would honour the Brian Mulroneys of the future, providing young people with the skills and tools they need, providing scholarships and bursaries, insightful faculty and real world opportunity.   

“When you have the tools you need, you can make a mark on the world in a way you never thought possible. 

“This is our hope for the Mulroney Institute,” she said as she noted how proud and inspired her family is and how they can’t wait to see students roll up their sleeves and get to work just a like a boy from a small town on the north shore of the St. Lawrence did so many years ago. 

Mila and the Rt. Hon. Brian Mulroney share a moment in the replica of Mr. Mulroney's Parliament Hill office from his nine-year tenure as Canada's 18th Prime Minister 

FOUNDATION TO BUILD ON 

“How blessed are we that Mr. Mulroney chose Nova Scotia, StFX, and Antigonish, to be home to this magnificent building and learning institution,” Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil said in his remarks as he noted the gift  Mr. Mulroney has given to a province, and a country, a learning foundation that all can build on. 

“This magnificent institution could have been placed anywhere in this country. You chose to put it here. We are deeply grateful. We will never forget,” the Hon. Frank McKenna, fellow StFX graduate, former New Brunswick premier, and an instrumental part of the fundraising campaign, reiterated in his remarks. 

The Hon. Frank McKenna

Make no mistake, he said, that it is here today thanks to the massive reservoir of respect for Brian Mulroney around the world.  

Both he and Mr. McNeil spoke of Mr. Mulroney’s accomplishments and contributions to the country. 

Mr. Mulroney was accompanied to the opening by his wife Mila Mulroney and their family. About 300 invited guests were in attendance. 

Mulroney Hall is a focal point within StFX, connecting the lower and upper campuses; the Joyce Family Atrium, the centrepiece of the building, will be a gathering place for faculty and students; the facility’s classrooms are fitted with the latest technology and a 300-seat auditorium provides a venue for music, theatre and debate. In addition, Mulroney Hall features a replica of Mr. Mulroney’s Parliament Hill office from his nine-year tenure as Canada’s 18th Prime Minister, including his papers, speeches and letters from world leaders.

To watch a livestream of the event, please see https://livestream.com/accounts/735962/events/8814206/videos/196497986

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