Canada Day Celebration

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Canada Day Celebration

Ottawa, Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

For nearly four years, I have been travelling back and forth across our country, which is celebrating its 142nd birthday today.

And I can tell you that from one end of this country to the other, from Moncton to Fort Simpson, Rankin Inlet to Montréal, Vancouver to Trois-Rivières, there is an incredibly valuable resource to be found.

This resource does not fluctuate on the stock market, nor can it be converted into cash like metals and other deposits found beneath the Earth’s crust.

Nonetheless, it is because of this resource that the world is redefining itself in a spirit of greater solidarity.

This resource is our youth.

In my installation speech, I said that I wanted our young people to be our standard-bearers and to reach with both hands into the incredible treasure trove that is Canada.

I know now that they are.

Everywhere that I have travelled, here at home and abroad, I have met young Canadians who are demonstrating compassion, protecting the common good, and working together.

Their actions are rooted in a place, a community, a country but reach much farther in the hope of creating a greater global awareness.

Their actions come in many forms and are making a difference on every front.

Today’s youth are easing tensions in some of our urban neighbourhoods.

They are planting trees and flowers, revitalizing our weary planet.

They are inventing new languages to express who we are.

They are defending our ideal of justice, equality and freedom, at times risking their lives to do so.

They are full partners in developing our communities, as the children of the Arctic recently reminded me.

They are refusing to be silenced by taking to the virtual airwaves, rekindling our hope in democracy and our determination to free ourselves at last from segregation.

Our youth are encouraging others to excel, as the world’s youth will demonstrate at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, which will be held in February and March of next year.

My dear fellow citizens, these are the youth whom it has been my great pleasure to meet; these are the youth of our country.

These youth, whom we relegate far too often to the future, as though they have nothing to offer the present, are in fact, day after day, our most powerful antidote against inaction and indifference. 

So let us salute our youth and stand not behind them, nor in front of them, but with them in our shared desire to explore every possibility between us and in each of our lives.

Through our youth, we will come to embody, within our borders and beyond, the Canada we still dream about, whose full potential we hope one day to realize.

Happy birthday, Canada! I love you!