The Viceregal Lion
  1. The Governor General of Canada
  2. Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette
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20th Annual Convention of the Regroupement des jeunes chambres de commerce du Québec

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20th Annual Convention of the Regroupement des
jeunes chambres de commerce du Québec (RJCCQ)

Montreal, Friday, May 28, 2010

Do you know what pleases me? It is that I really have the feeling that I have come to meet an entire generation whose projects and companies are, in many ways, not only promises for the world of tomorrow, but seriously capable of injecting dynamism into the world of today.

We often express—to anyone who will listen—the prejudice that young people today are blasé, disillusioned and aimless.

But what I have seen and heard, all across the country for the past five years, and I have travelled it quite extensively as Governor General of Canada, are young people who are committed, who believe and hope, who have ideas, who create, who are working for the common good, who take courageous risks.

In Canada and around the world, young people have never shown themselves to be more aware of the challenges our societies are facing or of their global proportions.

You are not indifferent: far from it! Everywhere, you are finding imaginative ways and everywhere you are daring to tackle innovative means to mobilize people around you and to change things.

And I can think of no better example than the one you are setting as members of the Regroupement des jeunes chambres de commerce du Québec.

You have given yourselves the means to act, and in solidarity.

We certainly cannot rely solely on the ideas of yesterday to build the present and the future.

You are the Internet, Blackberry, iPod and laptop generation. The technology available to you is limited only by your imagination. You like to network and transcend borders. Tonight is proof of this . . .

Moreover, you were born at a time when cultural diversity was the norm.

The paths open to you in your lives are limitless.

Our societies can no longer do without your support, your perspectives, your action, and it is your responsibility to shake up our ways of doing things, to turn accepted ideas upside down, to eliminate prejudices, and everything that excludes or blocks the road to progress.

You must introduce the colours of modernity, and explore all the potential in the world.

You are the spirit of change, and this change will most certainly happen through you.

You know, no one escaped the economic storm that shook the entire planet, and young people are affected more greatly affected by the consequences of this crisis.

An entire system based on market logic and the “fend for yourself” mentality collapsed like a house of cards, dragging us down with it, but today we are trying to rebuild this system on a different foundation.

What is certain is that the world that has just gone through this financial crisis, one whose future is still undetermined, needs new ways of thinking and of acting.

What is also certain is that to create growth and wealth in the current context, our society needs new blood, it needs a new vision for the future.

Our society needs the ideas, dreams and daring of our young people.

You allowed yourselves to be open and to take the initiative to become involved in Quebec society and contribute to its well being. Your determination and work have started driving this economy.

It is now up to us to show the same openness toward you, young people who are so committed in every field.

It is a matter of shared responsibility.

I would even say—as I did on May 10 before experts from DiverseCity and members of the Canadian Club in Toronto—that is a matter of corporate social responsibility.

Young Quebec entrepreneurs, you have established networks and groups that allow you to develop your abilities, to have your voices heard, and to lead Quebec down the road to prosperity.

Networks of solidarity that increase and strengthen the scope of the work you are doing.

But well-established companies still have the responsibility of opening their networks and serving as mentors to you if they really want to pass along everything they have built. I have no doubt that this is the case.

Young people must be able to find support, training and advice from those who have paved the way and are part of the heritage of great economic builders in Quebec, like Alphonse Desjardins was at the beginning of the last century.

As young and old alike, we have so much to learn from one another.

When young people’s ideas blend with the experience of seasoned entrepreneurs, the result is untold promises for Quebec’s future and prosperity.

I believe in the lifeblood you represent in this community. It is a belief on which I have based my commitment to you, the youth of this country, whom I have made my priority as Governor General of Canada.

I believe that investing in you—as the United Nations is inviting us to do in this, the International Year of Youth, which begins on August 12—is an act of faith.

Faith in your ability to create new opportunities for society as a whole.

And as soon as we start believing that everything is possible, nothing can stop us from achieving our dreams, as you so vividly remind us today.

In conclusion, I would like to thank the Jeune chambre de commerce haïtienne, which is hosting your convention this year.

The woman of Haitian origin standing before you is proud of the work you are doing and the role you are playing in Quebec society.

It is wonderful to be here, among the youth of Quebec, who are always so lively and dynamic, and to whom I am so attached.

Thank you.