Special Honours Ceremony

May 8, 2024

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Welcome everyone. I am pleased to host you at Rideau Hall for this special presentation of honours. I would like to acknowledge that we are gathered on the unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinaabe people.

I share this acknowledgment because we have so much to learn from Indigenous peoples. This traditional knowledge can help all of us on the path of healing the mind, body and spirit. I also encourage everyone to commit to reconciliation, which is a lifelong journey that can inform the work we do.

This is our collective responsibility.

Learn about what we can do to advance reconciliation in our communities.

In my installation speech, nearly three years ago, I said that “I am committed to …[building] on the work of destigmatizing mental health, so it is viewed through the same lens as physical ailments, and receives the same attention, compassion and understanding.”

This week, as we mark Mental Health Week, I’m honoured to recognize you for the work you are doing to build a healthier society.

We know that physical health and mental health are connected. A decline in one can have a great impact on the other.

I’m honoured to recognize you for the work you are doing that contributes to our overall well-being.

Through your work and advocacy, you are helping to change the conversation …

to destigmatize mental health issues …

to make sustainable and lasting improvements to our overall well-being.

Today is a wonderful opportunity to share your stories with Canadians.

It’s important to raise awareness of the great work that is happening across this country that aims to improve mental health.

I’m so honoured to highlight your excellent work that gives hope to Canadians.

Your work shows us the good that comes from action and compassion. By sharing what you do, I hope it inspires others to do the same. I am inspired by you.

The theme of this year’s Mental Health Week is “a call to be kind.” There is power in kindness and compassion.

Forge relationships. Build trust. Listen without judgement.

Demonstrating understanding and empathy can have a direct impact on people struggling with mental health issues.

This week and throughout the year, let us all choose kindness.

Each of you is contributing to a better Canada.

I would like to conclude with a quote from a report published by a group in Nunavik, the Tatigiilluta Working Group on Mental Health and Wellness:

“We are all worthy of a good life, with happiness, joy and confidence that we can face all of life’s challenges as our ancestors did before us. Our greatest strength will come from the love we allow ourselves to express and to feel. If we don’t do this work with love and compassion, it won’t work.”

Thank you for your work, your kindness and your compassion.

Congratulations, once again, on receiving these well-deserved honours.