A "spectacular" visit to the Northwest Territories
December 14, 2011
Sharon and I are back in Ottawa after a remarkable trip to the Northwest Territories. NWT license plates read "spectacular". They do not mislead. Our family has always been attracted to this fascinating part of Canada.
This visit gave me the opportunity to achieve one of the objectives I had set for myself as governor general: to meet early on with as many Canadians as possible in all ten provinces and three territories on our majestic country.
The best way to connect with our fellows Canadians, to learn about their challenges and to celebrate their successes, is to go where people live. Indeed, we were honored and inspired to meet so many residents of the NWT.
As we expected, Yellowknife sits against a magnificent natural backdrop. What stood out from the moment we arrived was the striking contrast between the polar climate and the warmth of the people. Theirs is open, embracing welcoming community that looks towards the future, working to combine ancestral traditions with modern-day innovations.
During the visit, we met with a vibrant Francophone community, members of the Canadian Forces' Joint Task Force (North), as well as with Elders and chiefs of the territory. I was able to speak to entrepreneurial members of the Chamber of Commerce, and to discuss the impact that natural resource development is having on the population.
I was struck by their commitment to sustainable development and their desire to apply northern solutions to northern problems. And in so doing to teach creative solutions and resilient systems with respect for the land.
I had the pleasure of honoring two outstanding students who received the Governor General's Academic medal and to witness how government, First Nations and local communities are coming together to close the education gap that had left too many Aboriginal students behind.
Sharon and I also attended an unforgettable reception in Hay River, and a fabulous community feast on the Hay River Reserve with unique Northern fare.
From one end of this country to the other, in every community we have visited, we have seen incredible things, accomplished by extraordinary people, young and old alike, who are giving of their time and their talents to build a smarter more caring nation. As we wrap up our official visits to the provinces and territories of Canada, Sharon and I reflect with thanks and wonder on all that we have experienced over the course of the first year of my mandate. We can say, with renewed conviction and without any doubt, that is the best country in the world.