Presentation of Canadian Honours
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The Citadelle, Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Sharon and I are delighted to be here to present the Order of Merit of the Police Forces, Military Valour Decorations, Meritorious Service Decorations (Military Division), Canadian Bravery Decorations and the Governor General’s Northern Medal. All of you have gone above and beyond to carry out great acts of courage, valour and selflessness for individuals, for your communities and for Canada.
The Canadian Honours System and other governor general’s awards and medals pay tribute to those Canadians who have truly made a difference. Whether you are a member of a police service, a member of the Canadian Forces, a dedicated proponent of Canada’s North, or just a Canadian who saw someone in need and intervened without a thought for your own safety, you are all examples of what we can be when we focus on helping others.
When I was installed as governor general, I made a speech entitled “A Smart and Caring Nation: A Call to Service.” There, I touched on the importance of service, which takes so many forms. All of the recipients here today have served in one capacity or another, making a real difference in their communities and bringing great honour to Canada.
Police officers serve the community, working at the grassroots level to uphold our laws and to prevent crime before it happens. They are front-line responders and defenders of order in our neighbourhoods.
Our Canadian Forces, of which I am proud to be commander-in-chief, serve our national interests at home and overseas. They put themselves in dangerous situations to defend the ideals that we hold dear and to improve the lives of those in need.
Those of you who are being recognized for bravery today have selflessly served your fellow citizens, knowing that it is our responsibility to protect and watch over one another and to act when there is a life on the line.
And Ms. Mary Simon, recipient of the Governor General’s Northern Medal, serves the interests of Northern Canadians. We recently had the honour of presenting the Northern Medal to Mr. Zacharias Kunuk while visiting Nunavut. Like Mr. Kunuk, Ms. Simon’s commitment to the North is unwavering. She is working to build sustainable communities and to ensure that Northern Canada and the Inuit culture have a strong voice in the rest of the country.
Today, all of you are being celebrated for your service and your actions, and I encourage you to continue to be involved in your communities, using your examples as catalysts to build a smarter, more caring nation.
But no matter how you contribute, you always show compassion for others and prove that you can change the world in small ways.
As we approach the 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017, the same year that we will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Canadian Honours System, let us use this time to ask ourselves, what do we want our country to look like? How can we better support families and children? How can we encourage learning and innovation? How can we strengthen volunteerism and philanthropy?
In so many ways, Canadians are showing their generosity, ingenuity and sensibility. I cannot wait to see how you here today will continue to add to your communities and to build the Canada of which we can all be proud.
I congratulate all of you on this occasion.