Presentation of the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards
Rideau Hall, Wednesday, June 28, 2017
Let me begin by acknowledging that we are gathering tonight on the traditional territory of the Algonquin people.
Welcome, all of you, to Rideau Hall for this presentation of the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards—the 25th anniversary of these awards!
What a stellar cast we’ve assembled in this ballroom! This evening’s ceremony stars:
Michael J. Fox;
Yves Sioui Durand;
William H. Loewen; and
You’re all here on the eve of the 150th anniversary of Confederation, making this a truly special occasion!
Befitting your role as performing artists, each of you wears many hats.
You are masters of storytelling, acting, comedy, music and theatre, and you are also generous volunteers, philanthropists and humanitarians.
As is so often the case, perhaps Shakespeare said it best:
All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts…
I myself play a dual role today. As governor general, I’m here to honour your outstanding achievements with these prestigious awards, but as a Canadian I greatly admire your wonderful music, film, television and theatre!
You have achieved great success here in Canada and around the world, yet you never forgot where you came from. You celebrate being Canadian, just as we celebrate you!
What’s more, you didn’t stop with your own success. You are also generous with others. You serve as mentors and you help those in need.
This is what makes you truly great. You have turned your passion into compassion.
Your contributions are so important, because artists have a unique ability to both entertain and to make us think—about our lives, about our country, about what truly matters.
Artists can act as our conscience, and they can highlight important truths.
We watch you and we listen to you, in more ways than one.
You inspire us.
You bring us together.
You make us proud in more ways than one!
Sometimes, all it takes is an image, a movement, a message, or a song to have an impact on someone’s life.
That is why we celebrate you here and tomorrow at the National Arts Centre!
This is a special time in our nation’s history, and I thank you all for being here and for your contributions to Canada’s extraordinarily rich and diverse cultural scene over many years.
You are all true northern lights, shining brightly.
Congratulations on receiving these well-deserved honours.