The Viceregal Lion
  1. The Governor General of Canada
  2. Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette
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Launch of the International Year of Youth

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Launch of the International Year of Youth -
Mosaika Sound and Light Show

Ottawa, Tuesday, August 10, 2010

How are you?

What a beautiful evening!

As I like to say: audacity is the true and luminous spirit of the youth of our country.

That is why I am delighted to join you on the steps of Parliament to celebrate the launch of the International Year of Youth.

This solemn but evocative building–the very seat of our democracy—speaks directly to the power of citizens from coast to coast to coast to shape Canada’s present and future.

But tonight, we join our hands to deepen this message by celebrating the unique role young people can and must play in building stronger communities, better neighbourhoods or “hoods,” and a fairer and more harmonious society.

Just earlier today, at a Youth Dialogue I held at Rideau Hall, two hundred young people from the National Capital Region shared their concerns and aspirations with me. They are with us tonight and I would like to share with those of you gathered here what they said, which is that they, the youth of Canada, believe in dialogue.

You believe in fairness.

In peace and reconciliation.

In justice and fairness.

In sustainable, human development.

Ultimately you, the youth, have told me that you believe in a better world, and you want to be part of the solutions.

That is why this international year is so important.

For it lets the world know that you have what it takes to help humanity fulfill its dream of a world in which everyone, everywhere has an equal opportunity to flourish.

We have a lot to be proud of as Canadians.

For among the concert of nations, Canada stands as a pinnacle of freedom, opportunity and hope in a troubled world.

That is why I am so honoured to have had the privilege of representing our country both at home and abroad.

Let me take this moment to thank all Canadians—from the bottom of my heart—for the great warmth and kindness you have extended to my husband Jean-Daniel Lafond, our daughter, Marie-Éden and me, throughout my mandate as 27th governor general of Canada. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

After my tenure ends, I look forward to working through my new foundation to share your message of hope with Canadians from coast to coast to coast and to support youth initiatives across Canada.

For over the last five years, I have seen committed young Canadians take action and come up with very effective strategies to combat the exclusion, poverty, discrimination, homelessness, environmental deterioration and violence that still plague our societies. We must remain steadfast in our determination to eradicate these social ills.

For we cannot afford apathy, indifference, or fatalism.

The social cost is too great.

Vigilance and civic engagement are the only ways forward.

And you, the young people of Canada, have an indispensable role to play in this regard.

So let me take this opportunity to issue a challenge to all Canadians.

Because everyone here has the power to affect change.

On this historic occasion, let us illuminate our communities with the warm spirit of dialogue and mutual understanding, and let us do all we can to support and empower the youth of Canada and the youth of the world.

It is my deepest wish.

And now, as we prepare to watch the special edition of the Mosaika Sound and Light show, I am delighted to join hundreds of people around the world in declaring the International Year of Youth officially launched!