Order of Canada Investiture Ceremony
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Rideau Hall, Wednesday, November 17, 2010
It is an honour to welcome you to Rideau Hall and to participate in this Order of Canada investiture ceremony, my first as governor general.
Let me begin by saying how enormously impressed I am by the quality and range of your accomplishments, which remind us that Canadians excel in every field imaginable.
The strength of your belief in Canada and in a more inspired, more just and more knowledgeable world has allowed you to transform your ideas into reality.
I’m reminded of a quote by Marshall McLuhan, who peered into the future and predicted the arrival of the information age and the global village, well before the Internet era.
McLuhan said: “I wouldn’t have seen it if I hadn’t believed it.”
I think each of you gathered here today on this very special occasion can relate. In essence, you are all visionaries, people who truly believe in the promise of Canada.
In reading the citations that outline your remarkable accomplishments, I was struck by the extraordinary dedication that has propelled each of you to the top of your respective fields. In so doing, you have lived up to the spirit of the Order of Canada, Desiderantes meliorem patriam—“They Desire a Better Country.”
As Canadians, we are truly fortunate to have such imaginative, generous and talented individuals in our midst.
You are a diverse group, one that includes leaders in Canada and on the international stage. You are community workers, educators, human rights advocates, artists and designers, scientists and researchers, entrepreneurs, philanthropists, environmentalists, caregivers and volunteers.
Each of you has answered the call to service.
Through your example, we see that an individual armed with determination and the power of an idea can achieve great things. Never underestimate the importance of the hope that you inspire in others, especially our young people, who have so much to offer.
As I pause to consider the significance of this honour, it occurs to me that the Order of Canada is a brilliant representation of the country we aspire to. In 2017, Canada will mark its 150th anniversary, and since my installation as governor general, I have been inviting Canadians to join me in imagining our country as it could be.
We seek a smart and caring nation where all Canadians can develop their talents to their fullest potential. We want Canada to be a nation that increases and applies the knowledge of its citizens to improve the condition of all—at home and around the world.
The Order of Canada, whose members have surpassed themselves in their pursuits, is a living example of the kind of cross-cutting, interdisciplinary community we must form in order to thrive in the 21st century. Citizens of a smart and caring nation look generously to their neighbours and recognize the importance of collaboration across disciplines and across borders.
As historian Harold Innis once observed, “Most forward-looking people have their heads turned sideways.”
Ours is a common cause, and your achievements are driven by, and directed towards, the people and communities that surround you. In this way, your contributions truly exemplify the very best of Canada.
As we celebrate your investiture or promotion within the Order of Canada, we must ask ourselves, how can we square the pursuit of excellence with equality of opportunity? Let us keep this in mind as you continue to break new ground, bringing comfort and inspiration to your communities, and knowledge and understanding to the world.
It is my privilege as governor general to have this opportunity to honour individuals who have given the best of themselves.
On behalf of all Canadians, please accept my warmest congratulations and sincere gratitude for all that you have done for our collective well-being. Thank you, one and all!