Speech on the occasion of the Decorations for Bravery ceremony – 50th anniversary

September 9, 2022

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Hello, bonjour, [Inuktitut greeting].

Today, we are gathered on the unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinabe people who have lived on and cared for this land for thousands of years.

Yesterday, Canadians learned of the passing of Her Majesty The Queen.

Our Queen of Canada.

She had been a steadfast presence for 70 years, loving our country and our people for so long, calling this land her “second home.”

There was discussion about how to proceed in the coming days, as we mourn the loss of our beloved monarch. We talked about whether to move forward with this ceremony today. In the end, we decided this was an important gathering. These Decorations for Bravery—and the Canadian Honours System as a whole—are a legacy of Her Majesty.

In 1972, Her Majesty The Queen granted Royal approval for the creation of three new insignia: the Cross of Valour, the Star of Courage and the Medal of Bravery. She personally presented some of the first medals in this very Ballroom in 1973, as well as many other honours here in Canada over the years.

Time and again, she honoured selfless acts, service and compassion, which were also hallmarks of Her Majesty’s life.

I would invite you to join me in a moment of silence, as we remember Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

[Moment of silence]

Thank you.

Today, we recognize your actions with the Decorations for Bravery, as well as 50 years of honouring bravery in Canada.

Since the decorations were created in 1972, they have been awarded to more than 4 200 people, of all ages. Governors general have presided over these ceremonies for five decades.

Today, I’m honoured to continue the tradition of my predecessors in paying tribute to your unique and courageous achievements. And I’m grateful because now I can help tell your stories.

Stories define us. They shape us. Our experiences make us who we are. We will soon read your stories out loud, continuing a rich and long tradition.

You come from across the country, from all walks of life. Some of you have made a commitment to serve the public good, to protect in times of great and grave danger. Others acted based on the situation. The right place and the right time. But all of you made a conscious choice: to try to save a life.

Whatever the outcome, you gave the most important gift in an impossible, life-altering situation. You gave the gift of hope. Hope not only for the victims, but also for our own common humanity. You showed how much you care. Bravery is an act of caring, after all.

It’s what you all have in common.

And you share this trait with so many other Canadians. We saw examples of bravery once again this past weekend in Saskatchewan. Stories emerged of tragic loss, but also of great selfless care, of sacrifice for loved ones and for a community. This was a senseless loss of life, and we join with Canadians across the country in offering our condolences during this difficult time, as well as our wishes for the speedy recovery of those who were injured.

As I said, we have faced many hard moments in the past week, but we draw inspiration from you and your actions, which has brought you to this moment. And we draw inspiration from all those who have come before you. You underline the difference that one person can make.

You inspire us to look after each other, to come together as a community and as a country to make things better. This is what these decorations mean to us, 50 years after their creation.


Thank you. Merci. Nakurmiik.