December 14, 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 who have lived on and cared for this land for thousands of years.
Welcome to Rideau Hall for the Order of Canada Investiture Ceremony.
And let me also congratulate you in my mother tongue, Inuktitut:
Congratulations, and thank you for everything you do for our country and for all Canadians.
As we enter the holiday season, people of all beliefs, creeds and cultures are celebrating in their own way, whether with colourful and bright decorations or simply with the warmth of family and friends. And we’re united by the promise of hope and light for everyone in the New Year.
I also see that light in all of you, and in all that you’ve accomplished for Canada.
Since becoming governor general, I’ve had the privilege of meeting with so many Canadians who are making their mark every day in their community, this country and the world. Canadians who are members of the Order of Canada.
I’m delighted to learn their stories, to see the path that took them to embody the motto of the Order: “They desire a better country.”
Today, we learn your stories.
Throughout your lives and careers, you have made your communities better. You have improved our quality of life. You have changed the way we live, work and think.
Solutions will come from people like you, who are using your influence, experience and voice to tackle global issues.
The impact of climate change, for instance, is felt across Canada: we need only look at the devastation wrought by Hurricane Fiona in Eastern Canada in September, or the melting ice in the Arctic that is causing sea levels to rise. Climate disasters and changes to our landscape will occupy more and more of our time, attention and resources.
Or the issue of mental health, of people struggling, especially as we head into the holidays, a time of joy for some, but of loneliness or isolation for others. We must do all we can to provide help to people, and communities, in need. I know that the work of some of you in this room are contributing to the idea that mental and physical health should be treated equally—a strong mind and spirit together with a healthy body.
Another challenge we’re addressing together is reconciliation.
Tomorrow marks seven years since the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada released its final report with its 94 Calls to Action. The number seven resonates in Indigenous communities:
- The Seventh Generation Principle is based on Haudenosaunee philosophy. The decisions we make today should result in a sustainable world seven generations from now.
- The Seven Grandfather teachings are a set of Anishinaabe guiding principles passed down from generation to generation. These are echoed in many Indigenous teachings, including Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit. Truth, Courage, Respect, Humility, Love, Honesty and Wisdom were also themes that guided the hand of the TRC.
I am one of the TRC Honourary Witnesses. There are more than 60 of us who have accepted the responsibility of sharing widely with others what we know and what we have learned.
Reconciliation is in everything that I do, every action I take and every decision I make. It is one of my personal priorities, and it can also be applied to much of the work you are being recognized for. I invite you to consider how reconciliation can be embedded in our daily work and lives, because you are leaders within many important circles of our society.
I truly believe Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples can work towards a stronger relationship with each other and with the land we live on.
I know that we can do this. You have shown what we can accomplish when we make every effort and match passion with innovation, generosity, creativity and dedication.
That is what members of the Order of Canada do, every day, for Canada and the world.
We all have in common a desire and an obligation to pass on our wisdom to the next generation, and to listen to the wisdom of others.
We all have a role to play.
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 live side-by-side without judgment. One where reconciliation and healing and renewed relationships are thriving. Where people have equal opportunity, education and services. Where we take nothing for granted.
And where we respect our stories, our history, our differences, our truths.
You have already struck out on the path towards a better country, encouraging leadership, sensitivity and hope.
Your induction into the Order of Canada isn’t the last step, but just one more on your ongoing journey.
Once again, congratulations.