The Viceregal Lion
  1. The Governor General of Canada
  2. Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette
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International Meeting of the Order of St. John

Toronto, Ontario, Wednesday, May 28, 2014


Thank you for giving us such a warm welcome. We are delighted to be able to attend this international meeting of the Order of St. John.

One of the great privileges of serving as governor general of Canada is being able to meet with so many people who are making a difference in the lives of others here in Canada and around the world.

And that is exactly what I see when I look out across this room: people who are intent on helping others, one individual at a time.

I can think of no better way to change the world!

As you know, I also have the privilege of being prior of the Priory of Canada. It is a role that I am pleased to fulfill, given the importance of the work this organization performs.

Every day, St. John Ambulance volunteers and those who are invested into the Order of St. John are working hard to make Canada a better place.

This has been the case for many years—a century now. Since the beginning of the First World War, there has been an important connection between St. John Ambulance and the Canadian military.

In fact, many of the earliest members of the fledgling Canadian Army Medical Corps began working in first aid with St. John Ambulance. That the close ties between this organization and Canada’s military remain strong to this day is a testament to the valuable work you do.

Throughout my mandate, I have called upon Canadians to join in and help build a smarter, more caring country.

You are the very definition of smart and caring.

Please allow me to highlight a few numbers that illustrate your remarkable service.

Every year, St. John Canada volunteers donate more than one million volunteer hours in community service.

Let me repeat that number: one million hours annually. Think of the impact you are making!

One sphere in which you are making a difference in particular is medical first response and first aid training. In Canada, St. John Ambulance issues more than 550 000 first aid and CPR certificates annually—meaning you are making a significant contribution to helping to save lives.

On a related note, I would like to take this opportunity to offer my heartfelt thanks to St. John Ambulance volunteers for the invaluable support they provide at public events at Rideau Hall, the official residence and workplace of the governor general in Ottawa.

Indeed, it is a great privilege to have these volunteers present every time we hold events on the Rideau Hall grounds. They help to ensure the safety and well-being of the thousands of visitors who visit us each year. Without them, these events would not be possible.

St. John Ambulance in Canada is making a difference in other important ways, too. The organization’s innovative Therapy Dog Program is unique in the world, and provides such comfort and joy to those who participate. Sharon and I had the opportunity to meet one of these special dogs earlier this evening.

Today, there are more than 2 700 therapy dog teams in our country. This is a truly wonderful Canadian success story.

Of course, none of these impressive achievements would be possible without the volunteers and supporters who give so much to St. John.

I would therefore like to end my remarks by thanking you, on behalf of all Canadians, for your wonderful generosity and tireless dedication.

Together, you are helping to build the smarter, more caring country we all desire.