The Viceregal Lion
  1. The Governor General of Canada
  2. Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette
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2017 Parachute Canada Gala

Toronto, Ontario, Wednesday, May 31, 2017


Good evening everyone. I’m so pleased to be here with you tonight.

Thank you to Parachute and to Dr. Charles Tator for the great honour of this award.

I also commend Gordon and Kathleen Stringer, who will be honoured later this evening, on their important work informing Canadians about sports concussion.

The medical evidence that concussions are a serious health matter is increasingly powerful. But I was fortunate from a young age to have the importance of concussion prevention and treatment made crystal clear to me.

This occurred after I myself suffered three concussions in four months at the age of fifteen: two in football and one when playing hockey.

Recall, this was back when no one wore a helmet in hockey.

Despite that, my doctor said the only way I could play again was if I wore one.

I was of course worried I would be laughed at, to which my doctor simply replied, “Well, you have an interesting choice. Wear the helmet and get laughed at, or don’t wear the helmet and never play hockey again.”

I wore the helmet.

I’m so grateful for my doctor’s advice.

On concussions, the time has come for all of us to take the doctor’s advice.

Today we are continuously getting new medical evidence from around the world, telling us that concussion can lead to serious short- and long-term health consequences. Not to mention the impact concussion can have on families, on communities, on our society and our economy.

That’s why it’s so important to try to prevent and reduce the incidence of concussion, and also to make people aware that when such an injury does occur, seeking the right treatment right away makes a big difference.

This past December at our conference on concussions at Rideau Hall we hosted Canada’s leading authorities on the issue. Dr. Tator was among them. One goal was to continue to raise awareness of the serious impact of brain injuries. Another was to contribute to a national approach to make sports safer to play.

This is an important public health issue for all Canadians. It’s not just a sports matter. This is a preventable injury we need to continue to shed light on.

The key word there is “preventable”.  As the title of our conference at Rideau Hall put it, we can do better. We can encourage choices and behaviours that allow Canadians to lead healthier, safer and longer lives. 

One of the great joys of my work is the opportunity to visit different parts of Canada. And no matter where I go, I encounter communities who truly care about one another.  As a caring nation, let us continue to work together to keep one another safe and healthy.

Tonight, we celebrate our progress and look to the future. There is still much work to be done. I thank Parachute for its dedication to this important matter, nd I thank all of you for your continued efforts.