The Viceregal Lion
  1. The Governor General of Canada
  2. Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette
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Presentation of the 2017 Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts

Rideau Hall, Wednesday, March 1st, 2017


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

Welcome, everyone, to Rideau Hall for this celebration of the visual and media arts.

“This is my country,” Emily Carr once wrote in her journal. “What I want to express is here and I love it. Amen!”

As artists and art lovers, you can no doubt relate, not just to what Emily Carr said but to how she said it: with passion, with conviction, with personality, with love.

Those qualities animate the best artists in whatever medium they work, and they’re qualities our laureates have in spades.

Tonight, we recognize eight lifetimes’ worth of outstanding Canadian achievement in the visual and media arts.

Tonight, we recognize true artistic excellence.

It’s so important that we do.


One reason is to say thank you to our laureates for their remarkable efforts.

I know it’s not easy to make a living as an artist in Canada.

What you do may be a labour of love, but it often comes at considerable personal expense. A career in the arts requires sacrifices of many kinds. It requires great dedication.

We all benefit from your efforts.

Day after day, you animate, you draw, you film, paint, curate, write, design and craft!

Together, you make our country richer and more vibrant. You challenge us to think critically, to examine our surroundings, to better appreciate beauty.

You’re a delegation from the wonderful world of Canadian art, and I thank you for your efforts over many years.

We also celebrate excellence to encourage the next generation, to show that we value the arts in Canada, that your work matters.

Each of you is a mentor to those who follow, and I thank you for your generosity as teachers.

Tonight’s celebration is extra special as it marks the 40th anniversary of the Saidye Bronfman Award for Excellence in Fine Crafts.

How wonderful to see objects of such beauty and power rightfully recognized through this prestigious prize. The work of this year’s recipient, Ms. Pamela Ritchie, is no exception.

You may also have heard of another milestone we’re celebrating this year: the 150th anniversary of Confederation!

It’s a special year indeed, one in which Canadian artists will play a key role in helping us reflect, celebrate and imagine our future.

I would like to thank the Canada Council for the Arts, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, for its steadfast support of visual and media artists.

And I once again thank and congratulate our laureates on receiving this well-deserved honour.

Have a wonderful evening everyone.