Order of Canada Investiture Ceremony
Rideau Hall, Friday, August 25, 2017
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Welcome, all of you, to Rideau Hall for this special celebration of excellence.
As we begin, let me acknowledge that we are gathered for this ceremony on the traditional territory of the Algonquin people.
What a privilege to invest such outstanding individuals into the Order of Canada in this very special year. You are all most deserving.
Fifty years ago, the Order was formed as a uniquely Canadian means of recognizing outstanding individuals and encouraging all Canadians to help build a better country.
To celebrate and encourage excellence: this much is reasonably well known about the Order of Canada’s raison d’être.
But if we look more deeply, we see another purpose to the Order: to help us learn about Canada, and to help us improve.
How? By looking at gaps in the makeup of the Order of Canada, we can see gaps in our society. In this way, the Order is like a mirror.
For example, in administering this honour, we track statistics on gender, geography and field of contribution. These numbers are important. They can help us identify barriers that exist to a more inclusive country.
Consider gender representation.
From 2000 to 2004, fully 75 per cent of appointments to the Order of Canada were male, versus just 25 per cent female. From 2005 to 2009, the percentage of female appointments increased to 28 per cent. From 2010 to 2014, the number rose to 33 per cent.
These numbers demonstrate that while we have been on a gradual upward trajectory in terms of gender equality in the Order, we still have much work to do. And we are making progress. Over the last two years, 36 per cent of appointees were female.
By looking at the numbers and encouraging nominations from underrepresented sectors of society accordingly, we can help ensure this mirror reflects not just the country that is, but the country we desire.
We can do it to ensure every geographical region of Canada is represented fairly.
We can ensure diverse occupations and activities are represented.
We can ensure that people of all backgrounds who contribute to our diverse society are fairly represented.
We will continue to make progress in these spheres while keeping merit as the sole consideration for appointment to the Order of Canada. And that’s why it’s so important that Canadians understand that individuals are appointed to the Order by nomination.
This is one area where all of you can help. Wear your snowflake pin with pride, and encourage people to nominate their outstanding peers for this honour. Help us make the Order of Canada representative of all peoples.
Today, we recognize and celebrate your achievements, but I also ask that you rededicate yourselves to building a better Canada.
That, of course, is what you do best.
One person, one act, one day at a time, year after year after year, you have dedicated yourselves to your pursuits. What unites you is this sense of purpose, of giving back, of pushing boundaries and making us better.
Today, we behold a ballroom full of some of this country’s most talented, dedicated, thoughtful and dynamic individuals. I thank you for all you have achieved.
This is a special time for the Order, for Canada and for Sharon and me personally. This is my final Order of Canada investiture as governor general, and tomorrow we will host a historic gathering of members in honour of the Order’s 50th anniversary. I hope that you can be there, and that the event will catalyze new partnerships and initiatives among you.
It has been an immense privilege to serve as governor general, and as chancellor and principal companion of the Order of Canada.
Let us all view this investiture today as a threshold beyond which lie new and even greater possibilities for building a better country.
Thank you and congratulations to you all once again.