The Viceregal Lion
  1. The Governor General of Canada
  2. Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette
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Presentation of the Killam Prizes

Rideau Hall, Tuesday, May 30, 2017


I begin by acknowledging that this gathering is taking place on the traditional territory of the Algonquin peoples.

From the Critique of Practical Reason by Immanuel Kant, published in 1788:

“Two things fill the mind with ever new and increasing wonder and awe […]: the starry heaven above me and the moral law within me.”

Wonder and awe.

Nature and law.

The universe around and within us.

These have long been the preoccupations of the world’s top scholars and scientists, and tonight we celebrate a number of Canada’s finest.

You study the humanities, engineering, and the social, natural and health sciences.

You do it with a sense of wonder and awe, and a whole lot of determination, hard work and teamwork.

The ground-breaking contributions that you and your research teams have made are so valuable, impressive and innovative.

Together, you’re addressing important issues in indigenous law, biology, ethics, genomics, and HIV/AIDS care and treatment.

The variety and depth of your work indicates the quality of research taking place in Canada, and most importantly, it is helping us build a smarter and more caring society.

Without research, where would we be?

As Alan Bernstein of CIFAR and Janet Rossant of the Gairdner Foundation pointed out in a recent article:

“Because of research, the average life expectancy of a Canadian born today is double what it was when the country was created 150 years ago.” 

Which goes to show: research is on the side of life. Your work matters.

Such facts underscore the fundamental social, health and economic benefits of research.

It can be all too easy to take these benefits for granted, which is one of the reasons why the Killam Prizes are so essential.

These awards help us to tell the story of why research matters. It’s a story we must articulate clearly and convincingly in these complex, rapidly-changing times.

Also, these prizes and fellowships represent a very important source of financial support and encouragement for researchers. 

That’s why Dorothy Killam made the donation that started the Killam Program in memory of her husband a half-century ago.

What a birthday present that was for our country’s centennial!

This year, we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Killam Program, the impact of which is felt throughout our scientific and research communities. You continue to write new chapters in the developing story of excellence in the sciences, humanities and engineering.  

I’m so pleased to have this opportunity to acknowledge your contributions.

I would also like to acknowledge all the many generous and dedicated supporters of the Killam Program, including one person in particular: George Cooper.

George, who is the managing trustee of the Killam Program, is stepping down after more than 30 years, and a job very well done.

He leaves an impressive legacy.

George is a true champion of research in this country, and he has been unwavering in his dedication to learning and to public service.

He also helped inaugurate the Killam Annual Lecture, which I was honoured to deliver in its inaugural year!

Look what you started, George! I can’t stop talking!

George, thank you for your extraordinary commitment to the Killam Program, and for all you have done for researchers in Canada.

And to our current Killam Prize recipients, who are now part of this illustrious story, I offer my congratulations and my gratitude.

Thank you for your dedication and your leadership. This honour is very well deserved.

Have a wonderful evening.