Presentation of Honours
The Citadelle, Wednesday, September 19, 2012
I am delighted to be with you today for this very special event at the Citadelle.
Let me begin by expressing my appreciation to one of our very special guests: outgoing Chief of the Defence Staff General Walt Natynczyk, who has gained the respect and admiration of all women and men in uniform for the wonderful job he has done since taking command of the Canadian Forces in 2008.
My wife, Sharon, and I would like to wish you and your wife, Leslie, the very best in future. Thank you for your service to Canada.
As governor general, I have the great privilege of bestowing a variety of awards and honours on extraordinary Canadians. Our gathering today is unique in that it brings us together, within the context of a single ceremony, to recognize those who have given of themselves in so many different ways.
Each of you has made a remarkable contribution to your communities and to this country, and in the wonderful diversity of your achievements, you resemble the great promise of Canada.
Allow me to briefly highlight the various ways in which you have demonstrated excellence.
As members of the Canadian Police Services, you have shown leadership and exceptional effort in policing and community development.
As members of the Canadian Forces, you have demonstrated great military valour and provided exemplary service in the exercise of your duties.
As recipients of Canadian Bravery Decorations, you have defied the instinct for self-preservation by risking your lives to save or protect others.
And as Caring Canadians, you have built a smarter, more caring nation by volunteering your time to help others.
Seeing you gathered in this room and learning of your diverse accomplishments, I am, in fact, struck by how much you have in common—with each other and with other recipients of these honours from right across Canada.
It reminds me of the vision that Sir Wilfrid Laurier, the great prime minister who represented the nearby riding of Quebec East for 42 years, saw when he dreamed of Canada.
He once said:
“When my eyes close, I hope it will be on a united Canada, cherishing an abundant hope for the future.”
If good reason for that “abundant hope” is to be found anywhere in this country, it is in the spirit of service, generosity and selflessness for which you are being recognized today.
Each of you has served in so many ways, often without recognition. That is why it is such a pleasure to be able to express my gratitude, and to highlight your contributions to the creation of a smarter, more caring Canada.
These honours are a tribute to your remarkable service, and they, in turn, serve our communities and our country by reinforcing the values we hold dear. Across Quebec and throughout Canada, people from incredibly diverse backgrounds and circumstances are helping others, giving back and going beyond the call of duty.
I am inspired and optimistic, when I think of your courage and your generosity.
Without a doubt, the better country we seek will only result from countless similar acts of care and dedication.
On behalf of all Canadians, I would like to thank each of you for your contributions to your communities and to our country. We are truly grateful.