Governor General’s Performing Arts Award Presentation Ceremony

June 7, 2024

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Good evening,

Welcome all of you to Rideau Hall for this presentation of the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards.

Before I begin, I want to acknowledge that we are gathered on the unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinaabe people. When we acknowledge our full history, when we include Indigenous voices, we are walking the path of reconciliation … and there is so much to discover. Indigenous art and music, for example, and the creation stories that are essential to culture.

I would like to begin by recognizing someone who is not with us tonight. Mrs. Gerda Hnatyshyn, who sadly passed away last year. She was such a great help to me, and I know she was a great champion of this event. We are joined tonight by Mrs. Hnatyshyn’s family, who are honouring her legacy of artistic support.

Tonight, as we gather to celebrate exceptional talents, we are reminded that the arts in Canada have a long and storied history itself, dating back multiple generations.

All of you being honoured with the Performing Arts Award are enriching our cultural landscape, just like all the artists who came before you. You inspire future generations and your peers with your art and your creativity.

I have seen the power of the performing arts first-hand.

The performing arts allow us to celebrate our heritage, build and strengthen communities and our sense of belonging, and break down barriers. They unite us in, and ask us to consider, different perspectives, different way of being. 

I have seen performances from local bands, young people and others who revelled in their heritage. I have seen organizations that have built communities through performing arts, welcoming people who face stigma and challenges. I have seen artists who are contributing to a more inclusive future.

Inclusion and representation in the arts matter. Everyone has a story to share. Everyone can contribute to our national identity. When people see themselves represented in the arts, they are more likely to pursue their own dreams.

Our country needs diverse voices and view points to help shape our understanding of ourselves. It is up to all of us to ensure that all voices are heard and all stories are told.

This begins with you. It begins with artists who are united by passion and who pursue excellence. It is sustained by the ongoing commitment of art institutions, leaders and supporters who recognize the value of the performing arts.

Your work not only entertains us, it changes us and challenges us. You are adding your own voices, perspectives and experiences to our collective identity. It is through diversity that we find strength and resilience … and we find creativity.

Today, with the Performing Arts Award, we recognize your lifetime of artistic achievements, your dedication and your vision. Thank you for enriching our lives with your performances and support. May you continue to illuminate the world with your creativity for years to come.

Congratulations to all the recipients here tonight.

Thank you. Merci. Miigwetch. Nakurmiik.