December 9, 2022
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I would like to first acknowledge that we are gathered on the unceded territory of the Anishinabe Algonquin Nation, whose people have lived on and cared for this land since time immemorial.
I am so pleased to be here, along with my husband Whit Fraser. As governor general and commander-in-chief, I am so pleased to be here to celebrate and honour what you do as members of the Royal Canadian Dragoons.
There is something special about each of you who wear the military uniform. You are committed to excellence and consistently show that you’re ready for any and every task you’re presented with. You serve at home, defending our sovereignty, and assisting in times of natural disaster or any other emergency. You serve abroad, engaging with the world and contributing to building a stable and peaceful global society.
So often, you go above and beyond the call of duty to represent Canada with honour. You have become symbols of merit who show our commitment on the world stage.
Speaking of symbols, the guidon is a distinctive symbol used to visually identify your regiment and to foster pride and continuity. In this case, I’m proud to present your guidon on behalf of the Sovereign—an honour bestowed upon the most senior armoured regiment in the Canadian Army. This updated version recognizes those who served in Afghanistan, a difficult mission with varied roles and responsibilities.
It was in Afghanistan, between 2002 and 2014, that the regiment saw the first combat action since 1945. And it was there we lost 12 Dragoons—good soldiers with family and friends, hopes and dreams—and we mourn their loss still today. Many other Dragoons returned home with injuries, sometimes very serious and with permanent effects to their bodies and minds.
To all of you, I say thank you.
Thank you for your sacrifice.
Thank you for your service.
The work you do often means you put the requirements of duty or the needs of others first—the people and families who need help or the colleagues who require support. I have seen, time and again, people working on the front lines failing to take care of themselves. One of my priorities as governor general is mental health and well-being. Taking better care of ourselves, mind and body. Without one or the other, we can’t function.
And often, those who work so hard for us don’t seek out the help they need, when they most need it. The help they need to cope with the stresses that come with the work. With your work.
I hope to reduce the stigma of asking for help when required. I speak from personal experience, when years ago I sought out treatment for burnout and depression.
Although mental health issues are surprisingly common, it takes courage to share our stories.
We need you healthy.
I thank you for your sacrifice and dedication. I thank your families for their sacrifice as well.
Your stories, bravery, strength and proficiency will continue to inspire me as I perform my duties as commander-in-chief.
I want you to know that I see what you’re doing and I will share my appreciation, both here and now, and with Canadians across the country.
As we approach the holiday season and the New Year, I wish nothing but the best for you and hope that you can spend time with loved ones.
Take care of yourselves and each other. Remember that we take great pride in your actions, today and every day.