Order of Canada Investiture

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Order of Canada Investiture Ceremony

Rideau Hall, Thursday, November 5, 2009

Welcome to Rideau Hall.

I have recently had some lovely and moving encounters.

I have just returned from three State visits in South-East Europe, where people from civil society—in Slovenia, in Greece, and particularly those in Croatia—are working to rebuild that which war and dictatorship have destroyed, and in doing so, they are putting communities in the region on the path towards reconciliation.

Just as they have had to reconstruct buildings that have been damaged, so too must these communities restore the bonds of trust that have been broken. One action at a time. One word at a time. And all with an open heart.

What was unimaginable in this part of the world ten, fifteen years ago is now becoming possible. It is as though doors have been flung open to welcome in the shining promise of solidarity and peace.

But these doors did not open on their own.

In all societies, women and men see the possible all around them and they work to make it happen. Even when the situation looks hopeless, even when the path is full of pitfalls, even if they have to fight their way upstream.

What makes them stand out?

I think it is the unique way they look at the world and their ability to bring something new to the table.

These women and men combat the forces of inaction and inertia.

They look for solutions to today’s problems and for new ideas.

They create at the margins, on the page or canvas.

They transform outdated and narrow ways of thinking, and how we do and see things.

They go one step further in their thoughts, words and actions.

I would say they also stand out because of the passion with which they communicate and encourage us to follow them off the beaten path and to change our habits and beliefs.

They stand out because they have a kind of stubbornness that is rooted in an unwavering faith in humanity and its ability to evolve.

Today, we honour citizens among us who thwart the impossible and expand our vision of the world and of life.

They include leading community activists, defenders of human rights, great philanthropists, business and political leaders, scientists who are revolutionizing the fields of health, aeronautics and technology, academics who are pushing the boundaries of knowledge, artists who are reinventing the world, communicators who inform us on the challenges of today’s world, and doctors who treat bo.dies and ease suffering.

Ladies and gentlemen, you may work in a range of disciplines but what you have in common is how your achievements influence our lives. Think of the happiness, comfort and hope you bring to those around you. Think of how you empower people and entire communities.

Through your example, you remind us that there is no limit to what we can accomplish and you encourage young people to follow your example.

There are young people who are taking action and have the daring to dream big.

These young people have been paired with members of the Order of Canada as part of the mentoring program we created last year.

They come from all regions of the country and work in a variety of areas and disciplines, from the United Way to the Air Cadets, through the Scouts and Girl Guides.

They are artists, engineers, future scientists and lawyers, founders of charitable organizations, activists fighting for social justice and inclusion, and more.

The relationship they have with their mentors is certainly not one-sided. From the very start of the program, we saw that a dialogue began between the generations in a spirit of sharing.

That is why we decided to invite them here to help celebrate your accomplishments and to include them in today’s ceremony.

May I ask our 2009 mentorees to stand.

In their presence, you are becoming Canadian icons and encouraging them to do the same.

I strongly believe that combining your knowledge, experience and commitment to action is a promise for the future that is full of possibilities.

Once again, congratulations and thank you very much.