The Viceregal Lion
  1. The Governor General of Canada
  2. Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette
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Gathering with the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo and Presentation of the Governor General’s Commendation for Outstanding Service

Fort McMurray, Alberta, Friday, June 24, 2016


I would like to begin by acknowledging that we are on Treaty 8 territory.

Sometimes, it’s hard to capture what you’ve seen in words.

Visiting Fort McMurray in the wake of the wildfires is one of those times.

We’ve just taken a brief tour of some of the hardest-hit areas of the city.

I’d like to thank our guides from the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo for safely and knowledgably guiding us.

What’s clear is the extent of the destruction caused by the fire.

The damage to homes and neighbourhoods is truly heartbreaking.

I offer my sympathies to all those who have had their lives upended by this disaster.

I hope that life can return to some semblance of normalcy as soon as possible.

I’m also here today to commend everyone in Fort McMurray who came together in response to the fires.

Bravely. Tirelessly. Compassionately.

These words come to mind when describing the actions of the community, of first responders, of volunteers in Wood Buffalo.

Your response has been so remarkable.

As devastating as the fires were, the destruction could have been much, much worse.

People were safely evacuated, key infrastructure and much of the city was saved—and this was largely because of your efforts as a community.

You were among the first people on the scene when the fire threatened the city, and you fought through thick and thin to maintain order, to fight fires, to evacuate people safely.

All of Canada, and people around the world, watched in shock as the wildfires spread.

And the only thing we took comfort in were the stories of people pulling together and helping each other, and bravely trying to save the city.

We took comfort in and were inspired by your stories—by your bravery, your compassion, your tireless fight in defence of this city.

We were inspired, and we remain inspired—because your work goes on.

There’s so much rebuilding and regeneration to do, and such a long road to recovery.

It’s a privilege to be here with all of you today. Thank you for everything you have done and are doing during this challenging time.

I wish you all the very best as you rebuild this great community.