Letters of Credence Ceremony

March 10, 2022

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Welcome all of you to your new roles, ambassadors and high commissioners from Kiribati, Tonga, South Sudan, Comoros, Mauritania, Benin Botswana, Namibia and Luxembourg.

As was already mentioned earlier, I am joining you today from Rideau Hall, which sits on the unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinabe people. I encourage all of you to visit Indigenous communities in Canada and to learn about their lived experiences.

I, myself, was born in Nunavik, in northern Quebec. My parents and grandmother taught me and my siblings the traditions of my people, the Inuit. We would fish, hunt and gather for food. We travelled by boat and canoes in the summer, and by dog sled in the winter. I eagerly learned our legends and spoke only in Inuktitut, our Inuit language.

I carry the story of my people with me wherever I go. And as representatives of your homelands, you are doing the same. I urge you to share those stories with Canadians, just as they will share theirs with you.

Today, this virtual gathering symbolizes one of the continued challenges we are still facing. The pandemic has impacted all our lives, everyone around the world. We have had to confront restrictions and isolation, variants, vaccine hesitancy, deaths of friends and family, as well as economic and social upheaval. We have seen how all this has taken not only a physical toll on our citizens, but also a mental toll. It is my hope that we will address issues of mental health in the same way we deal with other areas of health care. I look forward to hearing from you during your posting on how we can further advance the mental well-being of people around the world.

Open discussion and communication is such a vital aspect of our continued relationships. And we need diplomacy now more than ever.

We have seen in recent weeks the importance of countries uniting to face oppression and violence. The situation in Ukraine, which changes every day, is heartbreaking and is bringing about uncertainty on the world stage. Today, I wear my kokum scarf as an act of solidarity with the people of Ukraine. Ukrainian newcomers often gifted these scarves to Indigenous peoples. It is a symbol of friendship and unity, and I’m proud to wear it.

Canada has more than one million people of Ukrainian descent who are growing increasingly concerned. We share their anxiety. How we address this crisis will determine our future.

I hope that during your mandates, you’re able to have conversations with Canadians about this and other issues. Climate change, for instance, which is having increasing consequences on our weather, our shores, our homes, our economies and our way of life.

Our world is changing, but despite all the challenges, I know there is hope. I know that we cannot give up.

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

Let us all commit ourselves to persevering against all odds and to working together for the good of our citizens and the world.

All of us here are part of the solution, and I am grateful to you for your support, your efforts and your continued friendship.

Thank you.