June 7, 2022
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I would like to acknowledge that we are gathered at Rideau Hall, which sits on the unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinabe people.
Welcome all of you to your new roles, ambassadors from Cuba, Ukraine, Ecuador, Portugal, Poland, Japan and Pakistan.
Our stories help define us, shape us into who we are. Collectively, our stories create communities and countries.
Let me tell you my story.
I was born in Nunavik, in northern Quebec. I grew up learning the traditions of the Inuit from my parents and grandmother. We would fish, hunt and gather food. We travelled by boat and by dog team. I eagerly learned our legends and spoke our language, Inuktitut.
I carry the story of Inuit with me wherever I go.
I urge you to learn Canada’s story while you’re here. Learn about our diverse communities. Learn about our Indigenous communities. Learn the truth of Canada’s history, the good and the bad.
And make sure to tell your stories as well.
I’m eager to learn about your stories and your countries. Because when you get to know me, and I get to know you, we can better understand, respect and empathize with each other.
That is particularly vital as we face many global challenges.
Of course, there is the ongoing pandemic and the continuing physical and mental toll that is taking. There is climate change and an increased impact of disastrous climate events.
And there is the effect of conflict around the world.
We have with us today the ambassador for Ukraine, whose country is going through unimaginable trauma. The stories emerging from this war have rightly sparked condemnation and outrage. I encourage all of us to listen to these stories, because the stories of war are above all else human stories. To place ourselves in the shoes of soldiers and volunteers risking their lives in battle. To think about ordinary citizens, about children and families hoping to stay safe. To hear the plight of people fleeing their homes to seek refuge in other countries. Let us all listen and try to understand the consequences of war.
These challenges aren’t easy. We may disagree and have hard conversations on what to do and the way forward. But they need to take place. They are necessary. Every step we take—every conversation we have, no matter how difficult—brings us that much closer to solutions, to consensus, to peace and security.
Our world is changing, but despite all the challenges, I have hope that tomorrow can be better if we work together to achieve it. How we address these crises will determine our future. I know that we can’t give up.
I hope that during your time here in Canada, you can have conversations with Canadians about all these issues.
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'm grateful to you for your support, your efforts and your continued friendship.