50th Anniversary of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award – A Royal Gala
Toronto, Ontario, Friday, November 1st, 2013
It is an honour for Sharon and me to be here to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Duke of Edinburgh Awards in Canada.
One of the privileges of being governor general is the opportunity to celebrate individual Canadian achievement. In the last three years, I have met with hundreds of young recipients of this award in cities across Canada—each one proof of how effective this program has been.
More than 500 000 young Canadians have participated in this program in the past five decades, with each one taking on an important challenge: give back to your community and country, and realize how rewarding that can be.
Since its inception, the Duke of Edinburgh Awards has allowed young people to develop their passions and to grow as citizens. All participants have discovered the impact they can have when they help others.
Hearing of their achievements and dreams has inspired me, and has reminded me that the country to which we aspire—a country that is both smart and caring—is a goal, not a given.
All of us here can learn a lesson from these young participants, just as we can learn from the talented and determined volunteers, staff and supporters who make all of this possible.
When you think of the transformative times in which we live—characterized by rapid change and shifting demographics—young people today have many challenges unimagined 50 years ago, when this program was launched.
Thanks to your help, we are working together to find innovative and bold solutions, striving to enhance the best of our traditions, while giving our youth the proper tools to thrive and to find their own creative solutions.
After all, we know that the youth of this country are a vital source of ideas and renewal for our society. Seeing all of you here today, I am sure that the next 50 years will be even brighter for these awards.
Finally, I would be remiss if I did not thank the one man without whom all this would not have existed. His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh was inspired to create a program in which young people would have the opportunity to challenge themselves, to get fit and healthy, to contribute to the community, to find out how they fit into the world.
We are fortunate to have with us His Royal Highness The Earl of Wessex, himself a staunch believer in the benefits of this award—having also earned the medal. He has continued his father’s tradition of caring deeply for the world’s youth.
We are grateful to both Their Royal Highnesses for creating and sustaining the momentum of these awards in Canada for the past 50 years. This award is both a legacy and a way to become engaged.
All of you here with us tonight have already shown yourselves to be conscientious citizens, and I have no doubt that you will continue to give back to your communities.
One thing is certain: your energy and contributions are essential to building a smarter, more caring Canada.
Congratulations to all of you on this wonderful achievement.