Order of Canada Investiture Ceremony
Rideau Hall, Friday, February 17, 2017
I begin by acknowledging that this gathering is taking place on the traditional territory of the Algonquin peoples.
Welcome, everyone, to Rideau Hall and to a very special Order of Canada investiture.
Today marks the kickoff of our 50th anniversary celebrations for the Order of Canada, founded in 1967 to mark our centennial year.
And my, what an impressive group of investees we have here with us today.
You come from right across this vast country, and we’re so pleased to see you and your loved ones at Rideau Hall.
Today is also very special because it marks the release of a new book that a number of people in this room have made possible.
It’s called They Desire a Better Country: The Order of Canada in 50 Stories.
The book is available in French and English, but if we ever publish a Latin edition, we’ll call it DESIDERANTES MELIOREM PATRIAM—the motto of this storied institution.
We felt one of the best ways to mark the Order’s 50th anniversary was to share the stories of its members.
As the title indicates, the book highlights 50 of them. They were chosen from a total of more than 6 500 to reflect the remarkable diversity and breadth of contributions made by members of the Order.
And let me tell you, choosing only 50 members was no mean feat! We were spoiled for choice.
I wish to thank the author, Lawrence Scanlan, along with translator Daniel Poliquin—himself an Officer of the Order—and the publishing team for their exceptional work.
This book would not have been possible without the help of the Executive Committee and the patrons of our 50th anniversary celebrations. They are members of the Order of Canada as well, and their support is invaluable.
Let me add a special thank you to Calvin Stiller for his generous leadership on this initiative.
Their collective effort has made it possible for us to donate a copy of the book to high schools and library systems across the country.
This is truly wonderful, given that our aim is not just to celebrate excellence, but to inspire the next generation of Canadians to build a better country.
On a more sombre note, I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to Stuart McLean, who was an officer of the Order of Canada and a valued member of our 50th anniversary Executive Committee.
Stuart knew a thing or two about storytelling, and he was instrumental in the creation of this celebratory book.
His love for this country was palpable. He will be missed by many, and we offer condolences to his loved ones at this difficult time.
So let us ask: why are we here in this ballroom today? What is our story?
We’re here because we desire a Canada in which everyone is able to lead a meaningful, dignified and secure life to the greatest extent possible. That’s what we mean when we say we desire a better country.
I don’t need to tell you we’re not there yet.
But thanks in part to the efforts of those of you we honour today with this investiture, we are closer to living in that country.
We are making progress.
The variety of your work is remarkable, but you share a common dedication to the individual, the specific, the particular challenge.
You see the big picture, but you never lose sight of the all-important details.
You know that’s where progress is achieved and felt.
You have all worked so very hard, with your eyes fixed firmly on the future, and the sum of your visions has helped us build a better Canada.
This honour is to thank you, to congratulate you on your efforts, to encourage you to keep going, and to inspire others to follow your lead.
As we reflect upon and celebrate Canada’s 150th and the Order’s 50th, let us look ahead to the country we aspire to build. Let’s look to the next 50 years, and think and act with that horizon in mind.
Let me close with a quote from my predecessor, Roland Michener, on the occasion of the first Order of Canada investiture in November 1967.
“I firmly believe that the Order of Canada, the purpose of which is to recognize the outstanding service of Canadians to their country, will instill in us a greater sense of pride in being Canadian and reinforce the notion of our identity.”
Wear your snowflake pin with pride, and let us rededicate ourselves to building a smart, caring and inclusive Canada, and to making contributions that will improve the lives of everyone who calls it home.