Presentation of the First Poppy

October 20, 2023

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Welcome, all of you, to Rideau Hall. I would like to acknowledge that 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.

As governor general and commander-in-chief, I’m honoured to host the launch of the National Poppy Campaign.

Every year, from the end of October until Remembrance Day, our country is full of vibrant red poppies.

It is a sign of respect.

It is a signal that we will listen to the stories of veterans, reflect on their service, and carry their stories with us, wherever we go.

With this poppy, we honour the sacrifice of those who served, of those who are serving today, and of those who never made it home.

We know that the cost of war is enormous. So many lives over time have been lost to fighting. Canadians have been killed in two World Wars, the Korean War, Afghanistan, and in countries around the world. It is a terrible thought.

It is important that all Canadians, especially young Canadians, learn the stories of our veterans. When we listen to our history, we learn lessons from the past—we learn about the path that led us to war and conflict. And in learning from history, we can avoid those same steps…we can foster peace.

It can begin simply, with a poppy pinned proudly over your heart. It can begin by scanning the poppy with your phone and reading the anecdotes presented through the “Poppy Stories” initiative.

I commend the Royal Canadian Legion for their innovative efforts to reach more Canadians and to commemorate the lives of our heroes…our veterans.

And to all those veterans with us today, and to veterans across the country, and to every serving member, I want to say how proud I am, for all that you have done for our country.

Whether at home or abroad, whether in times of war or peace, whether you have served during the pandemic in a long-term care home or helped communities recover after a climate disaster, you have been there for us.

We can do no less than be there for you after you have served our nation, to support you with your physical and mental health, and with your quality of life. That is what the National Poppy Campaign is all about.

The Remembrance period offers so many ways to remember, and so many ways to give thanks.

I’m honoured to receive the first poppy. I’m honoured to present poppies today to veterans. And I’m honoured to have with us young people, who we are entrusting with these stories.

I encourage Canadians, not just today but every day, to remember and to honour and support our veterans.

Thank you.