Transcript of the video message from the Governor General to mark Canada Day

July 1st, 2020

OTTAWA—Hello everyone. Atelihai. Wherever you are in our great country, greetings to you all.

A special salute to the men and women who serve Canada in uniform, and to the people of the First nations, the Métis and the Inuit.

Every year on this 1st day of July, at the beginning of the summer season, so spectacular and so vital in these northern latitudes, we take a moment to think about our good fortune and to celebrate who we are.

This year is a little different. Because we have had to look out for one another like never before. Because this year, we have been tested.

We are just now carefully emerging from months of fighting a deadly invisible enemy, with unprecedented measures and thanks to the tireless work of those who helped slow down the virus and kept the country running.

In the midst of it all, we saw a remarkable spirit and a great resilience. Have you ever watched toddlers interact with one another? They will often try to take away each other toys, and act selfishly, but a parent or a caregiver will come along to teach them to share and to be generous. We are taught the basics of social interaction from the very beginning. Yet, if you observe further, you might see something else kick in: a basic instinct. Especially if one baby starts crying, the other baby will want to console and to stop the hurt. The baby will show compassion.

So are we born with compassion or is it acquired in our upbringing? And if it is within us, as we grow up and mature, does it get re-emphasized or does it get destroyed – depending on our life experience?

I believe there is a bit of both. That compassion is within every single one of us, and that our early experiences strongly influence how it grows and flourishes into our adult behaviours. And that there are many crossroads, along the road of life, where we have to make choices and decide which direction we take.

I think that is exactly what we witnessed throughout the country in these trying times.

The virus brought physical distancing and social isolation, and pain and death and economic woes.

In response, Canadians chose “compassion and solidarity”. They chose to live with one eye on their individual needs and the other eye on the common good.

And we were quick to reinvent ourselves: from teleworking to online classes, from virtual artistic performances to “2-meter shopping”. We have adapted and found creative ways to connect, to support each other, to reach out, to teach online and to graduate, to show gratitude, to play outside, to perform, to train, to motivate and to inspire.

The pandemic also forced us to look beyond ourselves. Because we love each other, even at a distance.

It has forced us to make sure we leave no one behind, that we support workers, families and businesses, that we stand for the most vulnerable, the less fortunate, that we ensure the security and well-being of all, and that we denounce hatred and violence in all its forms.

Because the inequalities and the racial divides of our society resurfaced in a fury, exposing again, the flaws and shortcomings that we so need to address.

Our diversity is one of our greatest assets. There would be no creativity, no freedom, if we were all the same. What makes us unique, our differences are the strength of our nation’s fabric.

So just like the toddlers grow into adults, did a mature 153 year old Canada grow into a caring nation?

Will we remember the lessons of the 2020 pandemic, of the unspeakable shooting in NS, of the importance – more than ever – of reconciliation?

I am confident that we have and that we will not remain indifferent. That will build on our ability to act collectively, to act as one for the good of all.

Because we are intrinsically human. And we care. Today let us celebrate the generosity and the resilience of everyone throughout the country.

Let us celebrate Canada together. Proud and free.

Happy Birthday Canada!

Julie Payette


Please note that the text above is a transcript of the video available at:

Media information:
Ashlee Smith
Press Secretary to the Governor General

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