Tree planting ceremony in the United Kingdom

March 16, 2022

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I’m so pleased to be here with you in Green Park and to plant this maple tree as a symbol of our enduring friendship and close ties.

Canada and the UK are connected through the Commonwealth and Her Majesty The Queen, who is greatly respected and admired. This year, we are celebrating Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee, an occasion not only to honour our sovereign, but also to renew the ties that bind our nations.

And it’s more vital than ever that we protect and reinforce our bonds, to preserve our shared global values, including democracy, equality and peace.

These are challenging times for the world, particularly for those who are working tirelessly to strengthen international co-operation.

There is first the heartbreaking crisis unfolding in Ukraine. We are seeing horrific images of death and destruction. At the same time, we are hearing stories of great courage and indomitable spirit. Canada is home to more than one million people of Ukrainian descent. They worry for their family and friends. Canada stands united with them and with the people of Ukraine.

In addition, we are still contending with the pandemic, fighting climate change and struggling with discrimination and inequalities.

The world is asking: what comes next? How will we meet this moment in history?

We must all continue our work to promote understanding and respect. And we must be willing to listen to our individual and collective stories.

I’m committed in my role as governor general of Canada to doing that work. I have often spoken of reconciliation. In Canada, this concerns building respectful relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. It’s addressing the past and acknowledging the pain brought about by years of mistreatment, such as in residential schools.

But on an international stage, reconciliation takes on a secondary meaning: respectful relationships between and among nations, between people across borders, and encompassing the overlapping natural world, which we all share and depend on.

Progress can start with something as simple as planting a maple tree in a beautiful park, surrounded by friends.

There is a word in Inuktitut: ajuinnata. The word does not have a literal translation, as it encompasses many things: a promise to never give up, a commitment to action, no matter how daunting the task may be. To always have hope.

We are at a crossroads in history. Let us commit ourselves to meeting any obstacle and persevering against all odds. Together, we can be the spark to find better ways to communicate, to discover solutions, to create global hope.

And in everything we do, remember our kindness, compassion, understanding and respect for one another. Remember the spirit of ajuinnata to create a brighter future for all of us.

Thank you.