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  1. The Governor General of Canada
  2. Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette
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2016 Canadian Association of Physicists Recognition Gala

Ottawa, Ontario, Thursday, June 16, 2016



What do the Nobel Prize in Physics, the Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics, neutron stars and the detection of gravitational waves have in common?


Canadian physicists!

What a moment you’re having!

From the achievements of Art McDonald and SNOLAB to the work of Victoria Kaspi, Axle Becke and the researchers who worked on the LIGO and VIRGO collaborations, Canadian physics is making waves—pardon the pun.

And, as this evening’s medal recipients and award winners demonstrate, we have so much more to be excited about.

That’s the way it is with major prizes: they’re always just the tip of an iceberg, indicating a larger culture of excellence.

So every award won by an individual or research team is truly an award for all of you, and indeed for all Canadians.

That’s why every year we gather at Rideau Hall to present some of Canada’s most prestigious awards, often to physicists: the Killam Prizes, the Herzberg Gold Medal in Science and Engineering and, most recently, the inaugural presentation of the Governor General’s Innovation Awards, one of which went to your colleague Jeff Dahn of Halifax, Nova Scotia for his work developing better and longer-lasting batteries.

In fact, following the presentation of the innovation awards we held a panel discussion on innovation, and one of our contributors was Neil Turok, who of course you’re all familiar with.

In his remarks, Neil shared an important insight about Canada’s potential to be a world leader in learning. He pointed out that the Perimeter Institute is home to a Masters program of 30 students, and that 21 nationalities from around the world are represented.

Think about that for a moment. 30 students, 21 nationalities!

That is a remarkable cross-section of peoples, and it’s an example of how Canada can be a beacon of learning for curious minds around the world.  

“Canada needs to become a magnet for talented young people,” he said. “The world needs special places where people can think about big questions.”

I share that view. Canada is a special place, and it can be one where people come together to study, to learn, to understand the world we live in and the universe at large.

All of you are proving that we can be this kind of country.

It doesn’t happen by accident, but rather through a deliberate strategy that supports research, scholarships, fellowships, training, and infrastructure large and small.

And it happens when you build a smart, caring country overall, one that looks outward with confidence and openness.

I would like to commend the Canadian Association of Physicists for its role in advocating for the study and practice of physics in this country. Your efforts are bearing fruit, and I encourage you to keep going.

This annual congress is another reason for your success: collaboration and communication are so important to learning, and I wish you a productive and enlightening gathering.

To all of the recipients and award winners being honoured tonight: congratulations on your well-deserved honours. In addition to your research and work, you are now taking on the role of physics champions in Canada.

Thank you for sharing your stories widely, and for encouraging others to follow in your illustrious footsteps!