Presentation of the 2017 Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Impact Awards

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Rideau Hall, Friday, September 15, 2017


As we begin, I would like to acknowledge that we are gathering for this celebration on the traditional territory of the Algonquin people.

Welcome, all of you, to this very special ceremony. This is the first time we’ve hosted the prestigious Impact Awards at Rideau Hall, and I’m so pleased to see you here.

We wanted to celebrate your work here under the bright lights of this ballroom, to say thank you on behalf of all Canadians.

What you do matters. These awards and nominations recognize your talents, your insights, your partnerships and the connections you have made in addressing some of the important questions and challenges of our time.

Having spent much of my career in post-secondary education, I’m well aware of the impact of the kind of work you do. You help us to understand and improve the human condition, and I’ve been very fortunate to meet with and learn from some truly outstanding researchers in my time as governor general.

And in fact, the work of Janet Werker, a former Impact Award gold medal recipient, is featured in the pages of a book I co-authored and published earlier this year called Ingenious.

The book profiles hundreds of significant Canadian innovations throughout our history, including Ms. Werker’s pioneering work in the field of language learning among infants. Hers is a textbook example of how the study of social sciences and humanities can help us understand what it means to be human.

It’s hard to overstate the importance of such fields of study in improving lives and building smarter, more caring communities. This is why we also made sure that social innovation has a prominent place in the Governor General’s Innovation Awards program, which we first awarded in 2016 to strengthen Canada’s culture of innovation.

In truth, all innovation is inherently social, which means the social sciences and humanities are especially important in this time of rapid change. Each change in our technology has a ripple effect upon our lives and society. We’re living at a hinge point in our history, and we need outstanding research that studies human behaviour, needs and wants to ensure our innovations serve people and communities first.

Each of you, our laureates, nominees and storytellers tonight, has answered that call, and we are very grateful for your efforts.

Be proud of this achievement. You’re here because those who know your work best nominated you. Your peers recognized your dedication to excellence, and now we want to share that success with all Canadians.

I also urge you to make the most of this opportunity to meet with your fellow researchers from across the country. One reason we bring people together at Rideau Hall is to present an opportunity for new connections to form, often among people working in disparate fields.

Tonight, you’re among some of Canada’s best and brightest, as we will hear shortly during the awards presentations and storytelling segments of this ceremony. Seize the moment!

My sincere thanks to all of you for your contributions to building a smarter, more caring Canada, and a fairer and more just world.

Have a wonderful evening.