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Her Excellency Sharon Johnston - Presentation of the 2017 Because Mothers Matter Awards

Ottawa, Tuesday, May 16, 2017


Let me begin by acknowledging that this gathering is taking place on Algonquin traditional territory.

As honorary patron of HIPPY Canada, I have had the privilege of being associated with this organization from the beginning of our time in office, and I am delighted to be here on the occasion of the Because Mothers Matter Award presentation that will highlight the contributions of three exceptional individuals.

We are here this evening to recognize the essential truth that mothers do indeed matter. I have witnessed first‑hand mothers working tirelessly for the well-being of their children. Mothers are the glue that holds families together.

Whether you are a recently arrived mother from a faraway country, a Canadian Armed Forces member on a mission abroad, an MP who works in Ottawa but who lives thousands of miles away or a First Nations mother by Hudson Bay whose children are studying in the South, you all share the common desire to ensure a bright future for your children.

Our success as individuals, communities, and a country depends on our ability to unlock the potential of all members of our society, and HIPPY is contributing by ensuring that children of low-income families are ready for kindergarten and that their parents play a key role in preparing them. 

During a visit to the Musqueam traditional territory on Vancouver Island I heard mothers say HIPPY made them enjoy being a parent.  HIPPY has extended to other Indigenous communities to give their children a head start in school.

Last fall during a state visit, I participated in a round‑table discussion on early childhood education at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.  HIPPY Israel is the most veteran of all HIPPY programs. That’s where it all began.

This visit illustrated the universal role of HIPPY and the transformative impact it has on the lives of children and parents in many countries including ours. One of the members of our delegation has made tentative steps to include a HIPPY program in Syrian refugee camps.

In closing, Canadians today overwhelmingly believe that education is the key to sustained economic well-being. HIPPY is an evidence-based organization that understands the fundamental importance of equality of education and can be critical in realizing this national goal.

Congratulations to the recipients of this year’s Because Mothers Matter award.