The Viceregal Lion
  1. The Governor General of Canada
  2. Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette
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Reception for Indspire Awards Recipients

Rideau Hall, Thursday, March 23, 2017


I would like to begin by acknowledging that this gathering is taking place on Algonquin traditional territory.

I’m proud to be patron of Indspire and to be part of this celebration of excellence.

Just over a year ago, we held a very special celebration here at Rideau Hall, which brought together young people from across the country to share their artistic visions for reconciliation.

The event was called Imagine a Canada, and their imaginings were expressed in drawings, paintings, poems and stories.

The youngest participant was a grade two student from Carcross, Yukon.

He stood about this high!

Another was a young woman named Robin Chokomolin. She wrote a poem called “Reconciliation,” in which she talked about growing up in Wahgoshig First Nation in northern Ontario.

I would like to share what she wrote with you.

I see that with education
we can rise above our past
that when someone asks me where
I’m from I won’t regret they asked
With reconciliation, our
people will be free.
Our people can be whole again,
and see how strong we can really be.

How strong we can really be. Isn’t that beautiful?

And isn’t that what we get a glimpse of with this gathering this afternoon?

When I read of the achievements of this year’s Indspire Awards winners—in arts, business, commerce, culture, heritage, spirituality, education, health, law, justice, politics, public service, sports—I get a vivid sense of how strong we can really be.

How strong First Nations, Inuit and Métis people and communities can be.

How strong Canada can be.

This is an important celebration of Indigenous achievement.

Each of you understands that our success—as individuals, as communities, as a country—depends on our ability to unlock and foster the potential of all members of our society.

We have much work to do. And one important way forward is to recognize leadership and to celebrate excellence where we see it.

By doing so, we encourage others to follow along the same path. Success leads to more success in a virtuous, inclusive circle.

Because of this, I would like to thank you not just for your extraordinary achievements, but also for being here at Rideau Hall today. It means a great deal to us.

Thank you for your leadership and your outstanding contributions.

And thank you for inspiring us all.

Congratulations. I wish you the very best!