Speech from State Dinner hosted by the German President

October 18, 2021

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BERLIN, Germany —Good evening everyone, (Inuktitut phrase by Her Excellency).

That is a phrase in my mother tongue, Inuktitut. It means “I am delighted to be here with friends in Germany.” I am delighted to be here.

I grew up in Nunavik, in northern Quebec. My parents and grandmother taught me and my siblings the traditions of my people, the Inuit. Fishing, hunting and gathering for our food was a common activity. We were taught how to travel by boat and canoes in the summer, and by dog sled in the winter time. I eagerly learned our legends and spoke only in Inuktitut, our Inuit language.

Throughout my life, I have worked to improve the lives of Inuit, and all Indigenous peoples. I would also broaden my global horizons as the ambassador for Circumpolar Affairs from 1994 to 2003. Concurrently, I served as ambassador to Denmark from 1999 to 2001. I was installed as governor general of Canada just three months ago—the first Indigenous person to hold this position.

And now, as I said, I find myself among friends, on my very first visit abroad as governor general.

I’m pleased to be in Germany to reaffirm the relationship between our countries. My husband, Whit, and the members of our delegation join me in thanking you for your warm welcome. President Steinmeier, thank you for inviting us.

Canada and Germany are good friends and committed allies, with shared values and strong personal ties. Those personal ties are reinforced by the more than 3 million Canadians of German descent.

As like-minded democracies, we also work together at the G7, G20, NATO and the UN. And we are co-operating to address important global challenges: climate change, the pandemic response, threats to human rights and more.

In addition, our countries have a deep respect for our respective cultural achievements.

In Canada, our culture is as diverse as our people. It is one of our strengths as a nation. But inclusion and equality is something we must always work for, and never take for granted.

Recently, Canadians have focused on the importance of and the need for reconciliation, confronting hard truths about the treatment of Indigenous peoples. These truths can hurt, but we are stronger when we face them together. There is no end date to making amends, to righting wrongs committed. It requires understanding, compassion, listening, patience, commitment and constant work, but in the end, we can reconcile the mistakes of the past with the hope of tomorrow.

During the course of this State visit, I hope to promote inclusion and diversity, so that we can all learn from each other and promote greater understanding.

In that spirit, I am looking forward to attending the opening of the Frankfurt Book Fair, where Canada will spotlight a wide variety of distinct voices, ideas and writing. Our country is proud and grateful to be the Guest of Honour this year, especially as Germany is a country with such a rich literary tradition.

Beyond the fair, I’m looking forward to visiting important German cultural sites, such as the Humboldt Forum and the Jewish Museum in Berlin, and the Archaeological Museum in Frankfurt.

Finally, I would like to acknowledge the contributions and leadership of Chancellor Merkel, who had been instrumental in our shared successes and collaboration. As she prepares to retire from public life, we salute and thank her for her service and for all she has done nationally and internationally.

I greatly anticipate all I will see and do in your country in the next few days, the people I will meet and the new bonds we will forge for the benefit of both our societies. Thank you again for your hospitality.

I would like now to propose a toast: to the enduring friendship between Canada and Germany!