Presentation of the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award
Rideau Hall, Thursday, April 25, 2013
It is our pleasure to welcome all of you today to Rideau Hall, home of the people of Canada, home of all caring Canadians.
This week, we mark National Volunteer Week, and I can think of no more fitting way to celebrate than by honouring some of this country’s best volunteers.
Why is recognition so important? All of you give of your time and talent not for honours, not for the credit. You volunteer because you know it is the right thing to do.
And so perhaps the idea of shining a light onto your efforts is a little unnerving. But I would like to tell you today that you are more than just volunteers. You are inspirations.
I have spoken about my vision of a smarter, more caring nation, and since my mandate began, I have been meeting with Canadians who are making this vision a reality. That is what all of you do. You create a better Canada through your efforts.
And you are not alone.
In the past year, more than 250 Canadians have received the Caring Canadian Award. And each recipient, yourselves included, has long recognized that part of a rewarding, fulfilling, meaningful life is supporting one another willingly and unselfishly.
And when they do so—when you do so—change happens. Like a ripple in a pond, your good deeds radiate outwards, affecting not only the people you help, but also others who may see your dedication and think that they, too, would like to help someone. That is the impact you have, that is the power of a volunteer. And that is why we need to recognize your efforts.
You come from across the country. Some of you have been volunteering for decades, and others have made a profound impact in a short amount of time. You have families and lives outside of your volunteer work, yet you still find time and energy and compassion.
Today, you help and care for each other in all aspects of life and in multiple ways—many of them advanced versions of traditional volunteer work; some even wholly new displays of volunteerism.
I’ve been calling on our citizens to think about what they’re going to do between now and 2017—the 150th anniversary of Confederation—to strengthen their commitment to volunteering, to reinforce the idea that everyone has something to give, and to celebrate and recognize our volunteers who are building a smarter, more caring nation.
With you, this task is simple. You are already committed to volunteering; you are already reinforcing volunteering as a Canadian value; and, as you accept the Caring Canadian Award, we are celebrating what you do to build a better Canada.
You make your community a more wonderful place for all its citizens to live, grow and realize their true potential. You show all Canadians that volunteerism is a cherished value that we must weave evermore tightly and vividly into the fabric of our nation.
The theme of National Volunteer Week—passion, action and impact—is reflected here in this room, just as it is reflected in volunteers across the country. I know that you will wear your Caring Canadian pin with pride, because it is with pride that I present it to you today.
Congratulations and thank you for all that you do.