January 20, 2023
Check against delivery
I would like to acknowledge that we are gathered at Rideau Hall, which sits on the unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinabe people who have lived on and cared for this land for thousands of years.
Welcome to your new roles, ambassadors and high commissioners from Costa Rica, Mauritius, Angola, Laos and Samoa.
As we begin a new year, I would like to ask you a question: how can we work together to make our countries, and this world, a better place?
We face challenges that are unprecedented in our collective history. Our response needs to be dialogue and diplomacy, but most importantly action.
Climate change is just one example. Around the world, countries are already feeling the impact of a warming planet, increased climate disasters and the rise of ocean levels. It effects our economies, infrastructure and our very way of life. In some cases, it threatens whole countries with the very real prospect of becoming one day submerged.
This challenge requires a solution not from one country, but many. It requires us to look past barriers of language or culture. It requires people to work together across borders towards a common goal. We cannot afford to wait. Our differences are not so different when put in those terms.
We must also be steadfast in pursuing peace and security. In Ukraine, we’re approaching next month a bleak anniversary: one year since the Russian invasion began. The people of Ukraine, who have resisted and fought back, and whose lives have been upended, need our support and aid. And they need us to continue to work towards an end to conflict, but not just in Ukraine. Peace belongs in all places. All of us deserve a safe place to raise families, to build communities and to be who we are, free of judgement.
To move forward, we need you, your efforts and your openness. You have each come to Canada as a friend, representing the interests of your country.
I encourage you to learn about Canada and its diverse people, especially our Indigenous peoples. Learn about our stories—the good and the bad—and discover the beauty of this land.
Most of all, find ways to engage with us on the challenges we face. Listen to our ideas. In turn, we will get to know you, your people, your country and your stories. Together, let us not just hope for a better world, let us work to achieve it.
There is a word in Inuktitut: ajuinnata. It is very important in my language and is used often. It means a promise, a vow to never give up. It means committing ourselves to action, no matter how daunting the cause may be.
Let us commit ourselves to persevering against all odds for the good of our citizens and the world.
All of us are part of the solution, and I’m grateful to you for your support, your efforts and your continued friendship. I know that our bonds will only deepen in the coming years.
Welcome to Canada.
Thank you. Miigwetch. Nakurmiik.