May 26, 2022
Check against delivery
I would like to begin by acknowledging that we are gathered here on the unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinabe people.
Congratulations. You have truly made a difference in the community and our country.
It’s with the greatest pleasure that I welcome you to Rideau Hall for this presentation of honours.
Today, we recognize a variety of accomplishments with the Meritorious Service Medal, the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers and, our country’s highest honour, the Order of Canada.
In addition, we are celebrating acts of courage and selflessness, and those who have saved lives, with the Decorations for Bravery, which is marking its 50th anniversary this year.
You have come here representing a variety of sectors, have achieved local, national and international success, and have shown us your ingenuity, innovation and generosity. Whether we are marking a lifetime of work or a specific achievement, there is no doubt that you have made a difference in your communities and for Canada.
I’m grateful that you’re here. I’m grateful because now I can learn your stories.
Stories define us. They shape us. Our experiences, after all, make us who we are.
Rideau Hall is a place of stories. A safe place of understanding and respect. Many have come here to share what they’ve done, many have had their stories told.
And many, like you, have received honours in this space for their accomplishments. Today, you join them. Today, we will read your stories out loud for everyone to hear, continuing a rich and long tradition.
A tradition that extends beyond these walls.
Indigenous peoples, for example, have told stories on these lands for centuries and longer, imparting history and legends, myths of creation and even practical advice on many issues, including how to live off the land. It is, in fact, a sacred tradition found in many cultures.
No matter where we come from, what languages we speak, what we believe, who we love, how we identify, we have in common a desire to pass on our wisdom to the next generation and to be remembered for the good we left behind.
You have done good in your communities. You continue to do good. You shape our society through your actions and stories, helping others and creating a vision of success.
As governor general, I consider it both a privilege and responsibility to learn and to share your stories!
Because we’re inspired by your example.
I hope one day to see a Canada that doesn’t just desire to be a better country, but is a better country. One where people can live side-by-side without judgment. Where people have equal opportunity, education and services. Where we take nothing for granted.
And where we respect our stories, our history, our truths.
You have already struck out on the path towards a better country, encouraging leadership, sensitivity and hope.
And you’re also working towards reconciliation, which is not one project or act, nor does it have an end date. Earlier this week, I visited Kamloops to mark the one year anniversary of when the unmarked graves of children who attended the residential school there were found. When meeting with the community members and remembering the children who perished, we spoke about reconciliation being at its core about including understanding and respect in all that you do. And it’s listening to Indigenous peoples, to their concerns and their insights, and their advice for creating safer spaces for their stories and lived experiences.
Let us all work together to create a truly inclusive and diverse nation—a nation of kindness—where we celebrate our differences without giving up who we are.
The honour you receive here isn’t the last step, but just one more on your ongoing journey.
Congratulations to all of you.