November 3, 2022
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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.
It’s with the greatest pleasure that I welcome you to Rideau Hall for this investiture of the Order of Canada, our country’s highest civilian honour.
Allow me to congratulate you in Inuktitut, my mother tongue:
Congratulations. You have truly made a difference in your communities and our country.
Each of you has a unique story to tell.
Today, we celebrate your story.
We celebrate your contributions, which have changed the way we live, work and think.
Today, we celebrate all of you who embody the Order of Canada’s motto: “They desire a better country.”
Throughout your lives and careers, you have made your communities better. You have improved the lives of people in Canada and the world. You have been innovative and generous; you have inspired; you have created; you have achieved national and international success through dedication and commitment.
What makes this moment particularly special is that you were nominated by someone in your life who saw the hard work you put in. They knew, as we all do, that you are worthy of recognition.
And now, we will forever know your stories.
Stories define us. They shape us. Our experiences, after all, make us who we are.
Rideau Hall is a place of stories. Many have come here to share what they’ve done, many have had their stories told, 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.
As Canada faces its own story—our true history with Indigenous peoples—Canadians will need leaders of compassion and heart to show us the road to reconciliation. The snowflake insignia you will receive is a symbol of achievement, but also of responsibility.
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 and an obligation to pass on our wisdom to the next generation. And also to listen to the wisdom of others.
You have achieved so much in—and for—your communities. You continue to do so. You shape our society through your actions, helping others and creating a vision of success.
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.
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.
Your induction into the Order of Canada isn’t the last step, but just one more on your ongoing journey.
Once again, congratulations.