Presentation of the Civilian Meritorious Service Cross to Chris Hadfield
St-Hubert, Quebec, Thursday, June 27, 2013
I am honoured to join you here today for this very special ceremony.
It is a privilege to present Chris Hadfield with the Civilian Meritorious Service Cross. But more than that, it is a pleasure to celebrate his accomplishments.
Chris, I have the utmost respect for what you have done during your time as an astronaut. But in the past year—and please forgive the pun—you have truly soared to new heights, becoming the first Canadian commander of the International Space Station and inspiring the world with your orbital conversations.
As we speak, young people around the world are growing out moustaches—or creating their own—just to be like their idol!
And that is truly impressive, that you have managed to reach not only space aficionados, but also people who had lost interest in the lure of space, as well as children with vast imaginations. You spoke with schoolchildren across the country from the space station—including one conversation in which I was delighted to participate—answering questions as fundamental as: why is space exploration important? And as regular as: how does one brush their teeth in zero gravity?
We both share a love for education, learning and innovation. That is why I was pleased that Eddy, the viceregal lion and mascot for our Eduzone online educational resource, was able to join you and be part of the mission. You took great care of him up there!
What’s more, you shared your experience from space on social media, interacting with people from around the world, showing us how astronauts live on the International Space Station. It is humbling to receive a tweet from hundreds of kilometers above the Earth—I know from personal experience!
And I’m not the only one! You exchanged tweets with Canadians across the country and with people from around the world. But, to everyone’s delight, fiction met reality when you tweeted with William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy—otherwise known as Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock—as well as other Star Trek alumni. Even famed astronaut Buzz Aldrin got in on the conversation. Indeed, the only thing that I can say to that is live long and prosper!
Your use of communications technologies was truly innovative, but it was your passion and personality that made your outreach such a success.
For your role in promoting Canada and discovery, I am delighted to present you with the Civilian Meritorious Service Cross, awarded to those Canadians who have performed an exceptional deed, over a limited period of time, which has brought honour to our country. What’s unique about this particular presentation is that you become one of the few Canadians to hold both the civil and military decorations of this honour.
This fact is certainly a testament to what you have done for Canada on the world stage.
As you prepare to retire from the Canadian Space Agency, I know that I speak for all Canadians when I wish you the very best of luck in the next stage of your life. I have no doubt that you will continue to be a great representative of this country and its people.
Congratulations and thank you for your service.