Expo 2020 Official National Day Ceremony

March 19, 2022

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And allow me to greet you in Inuktitut, my mother tongue and the language of Inuit, many of whom live in Canada’s North.

Although I grew up in Canada’s Arctic, there is certainly much here that reminds me of home, even in the heat. And certainly I have felt welcomed here in the United Arab Emirates.

Our two countries share many core values, including diversity, inclusion, tolerance and the empowerment of women and girls. I am very encouraged by the work that we are both doing to strengthen our strategic partnership, including important cultural, trade and investment linkages.

It’s heartening to see Canadian culture and art celebrated on such a public and global stage. This speaks to the strong relationships we have, both with the UAE and with many other countries represented at Expo 2020. I would like to thank the UAE for their resilience and effort in hosting the first world expo in the Middle East. Congratulations on a successful event that has drawn 20 million visitors so far, even under pandemic restrictions.

Some 500 000 people have visited the Canada Pavilion so far to learn more about our country, about how we are embracing diversity, inclusion, human rights and gender equality. Of course, we have so far still to go, but we must always strive towards these fundamental values. With the future in mind, Canada is building a strong foundation, creating opportunities to address global issues.

But being here at the Expo, with all of you, is only one aspect of my visit to the UAE. This is a challenging time for those who believe in international co-operation, and who are working tirelessly to strengthen dialogue between nations. This period of global unrest highlights the need for diplomacy and collaboration.

The world is changing. We know what is happening day-by-day, hour-by-hour, minute-by-minute, thanks to our connectivity. For good and for ill, social media gives us a view into people’s lives. It brings to light inequalities, conflicts and discrimination at the same time we see the hope, generosity and kindness of humanity. Meanwhile, science provides us with evidence of the fragility of our natural world and what we need to do to save our planet.

Every day, we are inundated with information. It can be overwhelming.

No one person, no one country, can go it alone. It requires collaboration across borders to solve the most pressing challenges.

For instance, the situation in Ukraine is heartbreaking. The people there are fighting for their very freedom and autonomy. In Canada, we have more than one million people of Ukrainian heritage who are concerned about their friends and family. We stand united with them and with all the people of Ukraine.

How will we address this point in history? How can we put aside hostility for conversation? How will we use our relationships to promote peace?

Now, more than ever, we cannot give up on communication, dialogue, partnerships and finding common ground to resolve shared challenges.

That is also true of climate change, which is one of my priorities as governor general.  Climate change has impacted the world, leading to an increase in devastating storms, forest fires, flooding and droughts. In Canada’s Arctic, the melting ice affects the traditional life and livelihoods of Inuit. Small island states are also feeling the impact from melting ice, which is leading to rising ocean levels.

We cannot wait to act.

And we are acting.

Just looking around this expo, we see how countries are taking into account sustainability, and being creative and innovative in their approaches. The sustainability district here at the expo highlights how we can use new technologies to help our planet.

From pandemic recovery to women’s rights to human rights to climate change to international collaboration. These challenges are not easy. We may disagree and have hard conversations on what to do, on the way forward. But they need to take place. It is necessary. Every step we take brings us that much closer to solutions, to consensus, to peace and security. 

There is a word in Inuktitut: ajuinnata. It means a vow, a promise to never give up. It means committing ourselves to action, no matter how daunting the cause may be.

Let us work together, in the spirit of ajuinnata, to make the world a better place.

Thank you.