Launch of the Government of Canada Workplace Charitable Campaign
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Rideau Hall, Friday, September 9, 2011
It is a pleasure for my wife, Sharon, and me to welcome you here today.
When we were asked to consider hosting the Government of Canada Workplace Charitable Campaign at Rideau Hall, we leapt at the chance, because this campaign exemplifies so much of what we aspire to for Canada.
As patron of United Way/Centraide, I have enormous respect for the work you do on behalf of all Canadians. And I likewise hold the Public Service of Canada in great esteem—as did my predecessor the Right Honourable Georges Vanier, who once said:
“I know of no more noble occupation than service, and no higher calling than the service of the public.”
Never is that more true than during this annual campaign, when public servants join forces with United Way/Centraide to contribute their energy, their compassion and their creativity to so many important causes across Canada.
Hundreds of organizations benefit from donations received through this campaign. It might be a centre serving an entire community or a few volunteers helping to ensure the success of an activity. Through your efforts, these organizations receive the funding they need to fulfill their mandate.
And there are many more volunteers in each of these organizations hard at work making our communities smarter, kinder and a better place to live.
As governor general, I have been inviting Canadians to imagine new ways to build a smarter, more caring nation as we approach the 150th anniversary of our unique Confederation in 2017. And I believe that one way to do so is to renew and to deepen our commitment to volunteerism and philanthropy, by establishing a culture of giving in Canada as never before.
In a democratic society, we are often quick to speak of our rights and our freedoms as citizens, and indeed they are fundamental to our lives as Canadians. But I also believe we must be just as eager to speak of our responsibilities to one another, and to the society in which we are so fortunate to live.
In the Canada we dream of, each of us is acutely aware of our responsibility to give back to society—be it through our time, our creativity or our financial help.
With the aid of this campaign, federal public servants demonstrate year after year their sense of personal responsibility to others in their community. Others whom they may never have met—and perhaps never will—but who are nonetheless neighbours in real and pressing need of a food bank, an outreach worker or treatment for an addiction.
I can tell you from personal experience that this campaign helps to open our eyes to the remarkable breadth of humanity that exists in our country. Years ago, Sharon and I were involved with the local United Way campaign in Montréal, and we both learned a great deal about the many and varied challenges people face in their day-to-day lives. And we will never forget the wonderful stories of hope.
One thing I learned is that hope is a funny thing—you can’t give it without also receiving it in some measure. Giving reminds us that we can build a fairer, more just society, and it leads to the sense that we must do so. In this way we increase the store of hope in our society exponentially, every time we give.
And hope, in the wonderful words of ethicist Margaret Somerville, is the “oxygen of the human spirit.”
By fusing this fundraiser with the annual operations of the Public Service of Canada, the Government of Canada Workplace Charitable Campaign points the way to the smarter, more caring nation to which we aspire.
It is a country where every Canadian celebrates and recognizes the act of giving as the highest aim of citizenship, and it is within our grasp.
On behalf of all Canadians, I thank you for your generosity, and wish you a very successful campaign.