The Viceregal Lion
  1. The Governor General of Canada
  2. Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette
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20th Anniversary of the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI)

Rideau Hall, Monday, March 27, 2017


Welcome, all of you, to Rideau Hall.

Today, we mark two notable occasions in the history of the Canada Foundation for Innovation. The first, of course, is the 20th anniversary of CFI. And the second is the departure of its outgoing president and CEO, Gilles Patry, whose dedication has been an inspiration.

Gilles, let me just say, I know how hard this is, because you love what you do and you’re very good at it.

What I’ve seen from you is how well you promote Canadian innovation nationally and internationally. For those who don’t know, Gilles has been a delegate on my visits to 10 different countries in the past six years.

Everywhere he’s been, he has spoken passionately and knowledgeably about innovation and has been an extraordinary ambassador. We were fortunate to have him accompany us on our visits and to see the impact he has.

Gilles, everyone at CFI will miss your passion, but we know that you won’t be far off should we need to call on your expertise.

And speaking of expertise, I would like to commend everyone involved in CFI for building an organization that believes in the strength of Canadian ingenuity.

I knew that when I became governor general, I wanted to make innovation one of the pillars of my mandate. And I knew that I needed like-minded partners to really make a difference.

The CFI has been one of those partners.

Among other things, CFI helped to create the Governor General’s Innovation Awards. As a founding partner, this foundation was instrumental in the crafting of this new recognition, which was presented for the first time last year.

The legacy of CFI’s work and support—the work of everyone associated with this organization—will be felt in this award, but also in everything you’ve done.

Because of you, many researchers and labs across Canada have greater access to the tools and resources necessary to succeed.

And thanks to your efforts, research backed by CFI has built communities and strengthened our nation. 

We’re also more aware of the keys to successful innovation and how to do better.

One of those things we need to do we learned from watching how CFI does things. It embodies an important characteristic of innovation: collaboration.

Innovation, after all, is not done in isolation, but rather by sharing ideas, refining and testing them.

Over the last 20 years, CFI has helped Canadians transform ideas into reality. And you have helped transform this country’s global identity through your support, research and promotion of our country’s creativity.

And I can’t help but wonder what the next 20 years and more will hold for CFI and for innovation itself. What I do know is that Canadians are poised to be at the forefront of what is to come, thanks in no small part to the work of everyone at CFI.

To everyone here—especially our friend, Gilles—congratulations!