Presentation of Meritorious Service Decorations (Civil Division)
Rideau Hall, Friday, June 23, 2017
I acknowledge that we are gathering today on the traditional territory of the Algonquin people.
Welcome to Rideau Hall and to this presentation of the Meritorious Service Decorations.
What an impressive group of people we’ve gathered here today!
Aristotle once said:
“What is the essence of life? To serve others and to do good.”
Each recipient of the Meritorious Service Decoration has lived these words.
You have given so much back to your communities and have devoted your lives to making life better for the people around you.
You do so not out of a need to be recognized—some of you may even be uncomfortable in the spotlight—but because you saw a challenge, you saw someone struggling, you saw an opportunity.
And you took action.
You acted for the betterment of our country and our society. You are dreamers and change makers. And you have made ours a better country. That’s why we honour you today.
As my predecessor John Buchan once quipped, “Canada is a biggish job,” and it’s only thanks to the tireless efforts of people like you that this vast country is able to work so well.
This is a great country, but you know we face challenges. We have no cause for complacency, and we have so much potential.
The gains we have made in Canada, and the sense of compassion and of citizenship that so broadly exists, are all because of people like you.
You inspire us to be better, to do more, to contribute what we can.
There are many who look up to you as leaders and who follow in your footsteps. Your example is important. You can help to create a virtuous circle, where everyone gets involved.
Today, we say thank you for all that you have done. You were nominated for these awards by your communities, your colleagues and peers who know you best.
What greater honour is there than to be recognized by one’s community, one’s country?
As we mark the 150th anniversary of Confederation, we have the opportunity to look back at all we have accomplished. Let us also look forward, to what still needs to be done to make this a truly smart and caring nation.
Congratulations on this well-deserved honour.