April 21, 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.
It’s with the greatest pleasure that I welcome you to Rideau Hall for this presentation of the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers.
The past few years have been difficult. The pandemic changed so much in our world, but it did nothing to dim our compassion and generosity.
Through small gestures and large actions, Canadians showed how deeply we care and what we can accomplish when we work together.
Volunteers are the backbone of communities across this country, providing support that may not otherwise exist.
All of you being honoured today met challenges head-on, addressing the greatest needs in your communities by giving of your time and expertise. You have made a difference with your outstanding devotion, dedication and commitment.
You did so without the expectation of recognition. But your work didn’t go unnoticed.
Someone saw what you were doing and nominated you for this medal, which recognizes the exceptional volunteer achievements of Canadians across the country. I'm grateful that they did so, because I was able to 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 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 because it's the right thing to do.
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 seek 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, reconciliation and hope.
As we prepare to celebrate National Volunteer Week, beginning April 24, let us all work together to create a truly inclusive and diverse nation—a compassionate nation—where we celebrate our differences without giving up who we are.
The medal you receive here today isn’t the last step, but just one more on your ongoing journey.
Congratulations to all of you.