Presentation of the Diamond Jubilee Medal
The Citadelle, Sunday, October 21, 2012
I would like first to welcome all of you here to the Citadelle. This place has been home to Canada’s governors general since 1872 and is a wonderful symbol of the Crown in Quebec. It is therefore a fitting location for me to honour all of you with the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.
At every instance in which I have had the honour of presenting these medals and of representing Canada at Diamond Jubilee events, I have taken the time to reflect on the meaning that the Crown has for us as Canadians. I would like to do so again today.
In John Fraser’s book, The Secret of the Crown, he writes that “. . . the Crown defines our uniqueness and is evidence of a mature community that can carry forward its history and heritage and uniqueness with pride.”
It is the Crown that unites us through common heritage and history, but it does so by allowing for and celebrating our unique differences. In Canada, the Crown is shared, and it serves Canadians well by finding its strength in our diversity. That is what we celebrate here.
Artists and entrepreneurs, scientists and educators, innovators and volunteers, everyone who has received this award has been representative of that diversity.
Here in Quebec—here in this very room, in fact—we see examples of what happens when people of unique origin, of differing backgrounds and languages, come together. We create a stronger and better country.
With us today are Canadians who have contributed so much. Canadians such as Alex Harvey, a decorated athlete who gives back to his community. Ricardo Larrivée, who has delighted so many Canadians with his recipes and his charm. Dominique Michel, who has brought joy into so many lives and inspired many during her battle with cancer. Ginette Legendre, a retired nurse who now writes stories about physical and mental illnesses that impact children. Or Jean-Guy Paquet, who has shown commitment to education, innovation and international co-operation.
And there are so many more dedicated people here with us and fascinating stories to share.
All of you are proud to serve. You take pride in your efforts. Pride in your accomplishments. Pride in your communities.
You are proud of what you have done for this country.
And even more than that, you understand the importance of service to others.
That is why all of you are here today. You have seen adversity and identified challenges, and you have addressed them head on. You have made this a smarter, more caring nation through your actions.
Time and again, Her Majesty The Queen has proven worthy of the trust we placed in her. And time and again, so many Canadians have proven worthy of the trust others place in us. We aspire to be a giving people. You are giving people.
That is why this medal means so much to us. It is a reminder of the importance of service, of how giving to others is a means of improving the world in which we live.
I congratulate each of you on your accomplishments. I know that you will all keep working with each other and in your communities to build a stronger nation, based on our common history and heritage, and our individual uniqueness.