Speech from the Governor General on the occasion of the Canada Day daytime ceremony

July 1, 2023

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Thank you to everyone joining us here today as we gather on the unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinabe people who have lived on and cared for this land for thousands of years.

While you have heard other land acknowledgements today, these words are important to show gratitude to Indigenous peoples for welcoming us to their land, and acknowledge Canada’s true history.

These words are acts of reconciliation.

Reconciliation is not an Indigenous issue…it’s a Canadian issue.

Nor is reconciliation one act or one moment.

Many simple, small acts contribute to the progress of reconciliation … to inclusion.

Inclusion is a powerful word. It’s about being seen … being heard. Feeling like you matter … like you are represented.

Across Canada, I can see we are making progress one act at a time.

I have seen it in the Northwest Territories, where volunteers from Food Rescue Yellowknife are working alongside grocery stores to bring food—which would otherwise be thrown away—to those in the greatest need. 

I have seen it in Quebec, in Alberta, in British Columbia, in Nova Scotia—in communities too numerous to list—as wildfires rage and flooding impacts homes and livelihoods. Firefighters and volunteers from across Canada and around the world are fighting side-by-side, protecting communities, people and nature. 

And I have seen it in Winnipeg, at the Ukrainian Cultural and Education Centre, where volunteers are helping refugees to rebuild their lives here in Canada and to learn English.

They’re also helping to preserve their Ukrainian culture and language, so they can stay connected to who they are and all they have left behind.

We need to find ways to learn from each other and about each other.

I’m proud to live in a country that is actively working to overcome the challenges that stand in the way of our progress.

A country that is focussed on the national and global issues that impact us every day.

…That is striving to be diverse, open and accepting. A country where we can one day be free to be who we are without judgement.

… Where new citizens can feel completely at home in Canada, encouraged to help shape our future.

… Where traditional Indigenous knowledge is used and respected alongside scientific knowledge to advance research, conservation and reconciliation.

… Where members of our Canadian Armed Forces can continue to serve with honour and courage.

… Where Canadians learn about the mistakes of our past, to make sure we don’t repeat them again in our future. 

… Where people engage in their communities and advocate for the most vulnerable among us.

Today, I am filled with hope for our future.

If we have the hard conversations, if we put in the hard work—if we do so together—there is nothing we cannot do.

Let us make the choice.

Choose to listen and learn.

Choose respect and understanding.

Choose to take the hands of friendship and support.

Choose to look for the good among us and within us.

Believe in each other, as I believe in you.

Let’s celebrate our country and all we have accomplished. As our collective story continues to evolve, let us look forward to a bright future filled with hope.

Happy Canada Day!

Thank you.