The Viceregal Lion
  1. The Governor General of Canada
  2. Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette
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Presentation of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Awards

Rideau Hall, Tuesday, February 16, 2016


What a pleasure to welcome you to Rideau Hall for this celebration of excellence.

These awards are important, not just to honour and encourage our leading researchers and innovators, but to tell your stories.

Research, after all, can be a bit of an abstract notion at times, so one of our tasks is to talk about the significance as well as the sheer brilliance of your work.

That’s a big part of what we’re doing tonight in this ballroom: shining a bright light on your achievements and why they matter!

As a matter of fact, just last week I was in Washington, D.C., talking about excellence in Canadian science and innovation.

Many of the world’s top scientific minds were also in the U.S. capital last week for the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

This year’s theme was Global Science Engagement, and I was there to promote Canadian research and innovation, and to foster ties with our global partners.

It’s an important challenge.

As you know, the cost and complexity of so much contemporary research means we must collaborate and engage globally.

Of course we’re doing this, but many avenues for improvement exist, and we can do more to promote our best on the world stage.

That’s why we’ve been working with NSERC, as well as Canada’s other granting councils and research and innovation partners, on the Global Excellence Initiative, which aims to ensure your work and that of your research colleagues is nominated for the top international awards and prizes.

Because one thing we’re most assuredly not lacking in this country is world-class research and innovation.

Being in possession of good scientific minds, you’ll want to see the evidence for that statement!

To that I say: look in the mirror!

You’re among the best in Canada, which means your work is among the world’s best.

Indeed, it’s been a very good year for Canadian research. In 2015, no fewer than 24 Canadians won prestigious international awards and prizes in science, engineering, health, medicine, the social sciences and humanities.

Each of you has had a very good year as well. These awards are to recognize your achievements and to encourage you: keep going, keep discovering and innovating.

You do that, and I’ll keep praising and sharing your efforts here in Canada and on the world stage at every opportunity.

And speaking of opportunity: I’d like to say a few words about the importance of not only excellence, but equality of opportunity in science and engineering.

And on that front, I want to highlight that two of tonight’s top prizes are being presented to women: the Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal to Ms. Victoria Kaspi, and the John C. Polanyi Award to Barbara Sherwood Lollar.

What great achievements! May they blaze a trail for many brilliant women to follow.

To all of you, I’m so impressed at your talent and dedication, and so grateful for your efforts.

Thank you, and congratulations on this well-deserved honour.

I wish you a wonderful evening.