The Viceregal Lion
  1. The Governor General of Canada
  2. Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette
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Her Excellency Sharon Johnston - 15th Champions of Mental Health Awards Gala

Ottawa, Ontario, Wednesday, May 3, 2017


This week is Mental Health Week and Canadians have been busy from coast to coast to coast. I did not realize how implicated I was in supporting mental health until I have had an activity every day. Perhaps the most significant was visiting the small rural school of my granddaughter in Low, Quebec where the school principal initiated a mental health day.  Seminars for these young people included:  mindfulness; drugs and alcohol; a military member with Post-Traumatic Stress Injury (PTSI); and outreach.

So many of you here tonight have mentored me over the almost 7 years as I added my voice to the fight against stigma in mental illness.

As the Johnston mandate at Rideau Hall comes to end, I want to thank all of you who have accompanied me on this mental health journey.

I am grateful that you have helped me open the doors of countless organizations, labs, schools and homes where I could learn first-hand the many innovative practices. 

But my journey is far from over. On September 9, 2017, I will be hosting Masquerade for Mental Health, an event that will take place on the grounds of Rideau Hall. Everyone, including the general public and youth in particular, is invited to participate in this fun community fair and enjoy a concert.

As we celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation, this event will not only mark our country’s milestone birthday, but it will also be an opportunity to bring Canadians together and to showcase what Canadians are doing across the country for mental health. Please save the date and join me on Saturday, September 9, in the evening.

Now let’s turn our attention back to our champions, for they are the ones being recognized tonight. I am very honoured to present the youth award in my name to a remarkable young woman, Lauren Whiteway. 

Lauren has become a very active advocate for her condition, selective mutism, touching over tens of thousands of people in her community and around the world.

Let’s watch a short video about Lauren, and salute her for her extraordinary contribution to mental health in Canada.