The Viceregal Lion
  1. The Governor General of Canada
  2. Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette
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Presentation of Canadian Honours (Halifax)

Halifax, Nova Scotia, Wednesday, July 13, 2016


Good morning, and welcome all of you to this special presentation of Canadian honours.

This is a very special place. We’re on the traditional lands of the Mi’kmaq, and we’re also at Pier 21, one of Canada’s most important historic sites.

It’s estimated that one in five Canadians has an ancestor who passed through this terminal, when it served as the unofficial gateway to Canada between 1928 and 1971.

As my predecessor Adrienne Clarkson once said:

“Pier 21 represents the values which we all try to live by in Canada—freedom, opportunity, equality, decency.”

To that list I would add diversity, one of the great strengths of this country.

As you may know, Ms. Clarkson herself was a refugee to Canada, though she arrived from Hong Kong at another point of entry.

However, the mother of her husband, John Ralston Saul, arrived at Pier 21 on the Mauritania in 1946.

As I said: one in five of us has an ancestor who passed through this building!

That’s a lot of Canadians!

And what better place to celebrate the best of what it means to be Canadian?

Today, we recognize some of Atlantic Canada’s bravest, most dedicated and compassionate people.

We’re delighted to be presenting Canadian honours here in Halifax—joined by my viceregal colleagues, the lieutenant governors and commissioners—and to do so in the presence of so many friends and family members of the recipients.

We’ve borrowed our recipients from their communities for a day to honour them and to celebrate their achievements.

They’re from communities throughout Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.

They’re exceptional volunteers, professionals and innovators.

They’re caregivers and members of the military.

They’re courageous.

They’re philanthropists in the broadest sense of the word: they share a love for humanity.

Each of these individuals is making this a better country, one day at a time, one kind and remarkable act at a time.

Today, we’re here to say thank you for your compassion, for your excellence, for your sacrifices.

The Decorations for Bravery, the Meritorious Service Decorations—Military and Civil—and the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers all share a dual purpose:

To honour those who inspire us,

And to encourage others to follow their lead.

These honours inspire others to get involved, to help out and to build networks of caring and creativity.

Let today inspire you to nominate other deserving people for these honours.

To our recipients, congratulations, and thank you for everything you do for your communities and for Canada.


This ceremony was very moving and powerful for me, and I hope for you as well.

I was so inspired to meet each of our recipients and to have this opportunity to thank you in person for your efforts.

I’m also delighted to have presented these honours in the presence of your loved ones, and so many others who care about building a better Canada.

To all of you, my thanks for your support of these remarkable individuals.

I would also like to take a moment to repeat the call for nominations. None of these honours were presented by accident: each is the result of a nomination process by those who know our recipients best, and who know how worthy they are of recognition.

So I ask: who inspires you in your communities? Honour them, and help us celebrate and encourage those who seek to make a difference.

Thank you again to all who have helped make today’s ceremony possible and to all of you for being here.        

And congratulations once again to our deserving recipients.