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  1. The Governor General of Canada
  2. Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette
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Park Naming Ceremony - Winnipeg

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Park Naming Ceremony

Winnipeg, Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Let me begin by honouring the Indigenous peoples who have inhabited this land for millennia.

It is with great emotion that I join you today at this park-naming ceremony.

Just moments ago, I was sitting inside the Norquay Community Centre, listening closely to people of all ages, representing all sectors of this city, tell an inspiring tale of revival and transformation.

It is the story of how just three years ago, two-hundred Winnipeg children and youth, at an Urban Arts Forum I held at Graffiti Gallery, had the courage and eloquence to speak out and persuade North Point Douglass to take a stand against crime, exclusion and violence.

Although each testimony was tinged with pain, the young people’s call to action bore witness to a prophetic vision of hope, which pointed beyond the dark clouds of fear, looming over the neighbourhood, to a brighter day when you the residents of North Point Douglass—Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal—would feel safe braving the streets of your community once again.

Luckily, their spirit of optimism proved uplifting, moving upon the face of the neighbourhood to touch the hearts and minds of all those who had the power to turn things around.

So with the assistance of the police service, the city, the province, and a slew of community organizations, you answered their call by mobilizing like never before to develop highly effective strategies to bring about change.

You were creative, you were tenacious, and you were unwavering in your willingness to take risks, even when your actions endangered your own lives.

And in the span of eight months, your efforts bore fruit.

Crime dropped by seventy percent.

Thirty-two crack houses were closed.

Criminal gangs fled.

And your community became more united and compassionate than ever. It is incredible.

So on behalf of all Canadians, I congratulate you for what you have achieved.

Yes yours is a success for North Point Douglass.

But it is also a triumph for the nation, because it brings renewed hope to thousands of people who are struggling everyday to loosen the grip of criminal gangs on their communities.

Like a brilliant light illuminating a path out of darkness, the story of North Point Douglas, your story, teaches Canadians how to pool their ideas and their resources in order to overcome intractable problems, whether it is crime, environmental degradation, social exclusion, or poverty and homelessness. 

Your story shows us that even in the face of adversity, faith in our transformative power as citizens can move mountains.

And, as we celebrate the International Year of Youth, your story demonstrates that policy-shapers and decision-makers—to use Steve Wilson’s wonderful expression—must listen to and act upon the ideas and aspirations of ordinary citizens, particularly youth. That, dear friends, is what good governance is all about.

And that is why today’s park-naming ceremony is really about you. the residents of North Point Douglass. For you are the trailblazers and the change makers.

And I feel so blessed to have had the privilege of being a part of your incredible story.

From the bottom of my heart, I say thank you. Thank you for this very touching gesture.