Interview with Extended & Enlarged Interview of Dr. Qais Ghanem – Neurologist, Published Poet, Novelist, Creator-Presenter of Canadian Radio Show – Dialogue with Diversity

Dr. Qais Ghanem lives in Ottawa – Canada. He is often invited to speak in Ottawa and other places of Canada, and abroad.

Dr. Qais Ghanem visits Dubai every year. This time, when he returned in February, we met up as usual. As usual, we had our favourite topics to share with each other – global issues based on: peace, conflict and misunderstandings. When we get talking, especially, with Qais’s brother, Dr. Shihab Ghanem joining in – there is only one start and never a stop because we have so much to talk about!

After accumulating several decades worth of academic and professional achievements, Dr. Qais Ghanem has dedicated the last few years to tirelessly promote the integration of new Canadians into Canada’s larger society. He is a poet, a novelist, a broadcaster and most importantly, a vocal advocate of multiculturalism and gender equality.

During his long medical career, he was President of the Canadian Society of Clinical Neurophysiologists (2003-2005), and produced 20 medical publications, including co-authoring a chapter in the book Narcolepsy 1975.

Dr. Ghanem is a true activist for social justice, human right and personal dignity. For his voluntary work, he has received several important awards:

  1. 2009: The Canadian Ethnic Media Award (CEMA) – Radio Category for the broadcast called “Three women, Jewish, Christian & Muslim”.
  2. 2010: The Canadian Ethnic Media Award (CEMA) – Radio Category – for the broadcast called “Five Races in a Family of Four”.
  3. 2010: The United Way Ottawa Community Builder Award. His name is permanently engraved on a brass plaque in the Jean Piggott Room, Ottawa City Hall.
  4. 2010: The Ottawa Community Immigrant Services Organization (OCISO) Media Leadership Award.
  5. 2011: The Yemeni Canadian Association Annual Award.
  6. 2012: The Queen’s Jubilee Medal.
  7. 2013: Arab Canadian University Graduates Association Award for writing and poetry.
  8. 2014-Nov-20: The Order of Ottawa (Photo outside Jean Piggott Hall).
  9. 2015-Jan-19: Martin Luther King Citation Award by Dream Keepers.
  10. 2015-Feb-09: Award from the Japanese Soka Gakkai International for promoting peace through education.

Since retirement, Dr. Ghanem has been very busy writing. For example, he blogs for Huffington Post for which he has written dozens of articles so far.

During our conversations, I asked Qais if he was still practicing as a doctor. He said, “You cannot be a part time doctor. You must keep up with research, it is not a joke. You have to read a lot, and follow to retain information. I cannot be an ineffective doctor”.

Recap of the conversation with Dr. Qais Ghanem – Neurologist, Published Poet, Novelist, Creator-Presenter of Canadian Radio Show – Dialogue with Diversity, which appeared in the month of October 2011.

In Dubai, from my drawing room, as we achieved the immeasurable scope of Sheikh Zayed Road, this is how usefully the interview took place. As our dialogue began demonstrating questions and answers, mid-way between our related talk, it was evident as at the end that the world is a gracious place with persons like Dr. Qais Ghanem anywhere. Never leaving his side, topics of universal peace, unity, brotherhood, gave me the idea of the multi-skilled seasoned man – Dr. Qais Ghanem.

Born in Yemen, and having moved to Canada 37 years ago, Dr. Qais Ghanem is a neurologist, medical teacher, published poet, novelist, peace-organizer and creator-presenter of a very popular weekly Canadian radio show – Dialogue with Diversity. To top all of this, he also possesses the prosperity of instant wit!

In Ottawa, 8 years back, when Dr. Qais Ghanem went to attend a debate, “Establishing Peace in the Middle East”, in the Canadian Parliament, he saw the practical value of organizing: Potlucks for Peace, at his residence. He was successful is forming discussion groups belonging to diverse cultures and alive with the necessity to communicate. Every Friday noon, his radio show on CHIN Radio 97.9 FM, Dialogue with Diversity shows Dr. Qais Ghanem interviewing people from different ethnic sections of societies. The one hour radio show is supported by a website where he uploads these audio tapes and the pictures of his guests.

Currently, Dr. Qais Ghanem is on the Faculty of University of Ottawa, practicing medicine at the Ottawa Hospital where he is Director of the Sleep Centre; and at the National Defence Medical Centre, he is Director of the Neurophysiology and Sleep Laboratory. Dr. Qais Ghanem has over 20 medical publications to his credit. He is the past President of the Canadian Society of Clinical Neurophysiologists 2002 – 2005. In his voluntary non-professional capacity, Dr. Qais Ghanem has been Past President of the Arab Canadian University Graduates Association (1992-2002).

Breaking down barriers and removing differences is the same way for Dr. Qais Ghanem, as the way of being a good human being. He has the undying interest in proving to the world that we are all equal and we must treat each other with complete respect. He says, it doesn’t matter whether a person is whiter, taller, richer. Very relevantly, Dr. Qais Ghanem sized up his belief stating: ‘The enemy is someone whose story you have not yet heard, and once you have heard that story, maybe, he can no longer be your enemy’. To have proven the point, Dr. Qais Ghanem’s Radio Show, Dialogue with Diversity won the Canadian Ethnic Media Award two times. He is proficient in Arabic, English, French and basic Italian.

Adding additional pulse to the interview, Dr. Qais Ghanem remarked, “If you hear of Gandhi (Mahatma Gandhi), you have to love India”. Spot on, Qais and me were applauding the great Indian leader who had lived and died for the cause of peace.

Dr. Qais Ghanem’s personal motto is SCSC – which stands for Stop Complaining Start Contributing.

Running for the Green Party in the next Federal Election is Dr. Qais Ghanem’s way of contributing to building a better future for his and all other grandchildren of the world. He has promised to raise all the issues that others are afraid or unwilling to raise, and to demand accountability from government. He believes very strongly in the equality of people irrespective of origin or education or income. He has always recognized that people want respect, want to be heard and often want to contribute to society, and he will dedicate his time to achieve that. Dr. Qais Ghanem hopes to make a palpable difference.

Q 1. What has been the turning point of your life?
A. There are many in everyone’s life. Graduation from University, first job, marriage, the birth of the first child, the death of parents, and for some the publication of one’s first book.

Q 2. If you could go back in time, what would you want to do?
A. I would have been a more effective fighter for human rights had I been an economist or a social anthropologist, or, a lawyer or even an elected member of some parliament.

Q 3. What are your future dreams?
A. At this age, dreams become very limited. Time is so limited. But I still dream that somehow people who have known nothing but agreed all their lives, might wake up and realize that they need to help those who have been less fortunate than them. But it is a dream, and dreams do not usually come true!

Extended & Enlarged Version of Dr. Qais Ghanem’s interview – Neurologist, Published Poet, Novelist, Creator-Presenter of Canadian Radio Show – Dialogue with Diversity.

Q1. In your view, what is most important in life? Accordingly, name three aspects, important in life.
A. Love, justice, freedom.

Q2. If you were not doing what you are doing now, what would you be doing?
A. Public health consulting in the third world.

Q3. What motivates you to achieve your goal?
A. 6 years ago I created the acronym SCSC: Stop Complaining, Start Contributing. So, I walk the talk!

Q4. How do you handle stress and pressure?
A. Taking breaks from the stressful situation, recognizing that most things can actually wait until the next day.

Q5. Which of your qualities would you want to pass down to your child/children?
A. Compassion.

Q6. Who is your favourite author? Which book of your favourite author have you enjoyed the best?
A. John Pilger. “Freedom, Next Time”.

Q7. What are you pursuing currently, by the way of a light hobby, or by the way of a serious goal?
A. Writing my third novel, writing a book on immigrants, republishing my book of poetry.

Q8. In the last 1 year, is your particular goal advancing? Which is that goal/dream?
A. My third book, MY ARAB SPRING MY CANADA, is doing well. 180 people, including the Mayor, attended the book launch, the second largest number in my city, the capital of Canada.

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Geeta Chhabra

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