Have you ever seen the National Film Board film Paddle to the Sea? You know, the 1966 classic? It tells the tale of an Indigenous boy who carved a man in a wooden canoe and set it out on a journey to the sea. We follow the canoe as it makes its way from Lake Superior to the great Atlantic Ocean. An odyssey that shows how we—the people of Canada—are connected by our stunning geography and our love of the land.
More than half a century later, the story of Paddle to the Sea’s adventures still resonates. Because we are indeed all connected. We share values, cultures, interests. And we are fortunate to be tied together by such a diverse, beautiful, bountiful country.
There is no shortage of opportunities in Canada, in the towns and the cities, in the countryside, everywhere, opportunities to explore, to discover and to learn. Learn about ourselves and learn from each other.
I am fortunate to journey from coast to coast to coast and to be able to see how Canadians are connected.
Today we’re on the Rideau. Kayaking.
How fitting for Canada Day to be paddling on a river system that connects the St-Lawrence sea way all the way to the Beaufort Sea, using a brilliant invention of the people of North America’s Arctic. A kayak—a man’s boat—that was originally designed for hunting, highly maneuverable in shallow or breaking waters, perfect to creep over a prey. Now it is also used for fun and sightseeing. The kayak is a tribute to the ingenuity and resourcefulness of the Inuit people.
I do not know where you will be in Canada as we celebrate the country’s 152nd birthday. I hope you will be somewhere unique and special to you—perhaps
…by a campfire in one of our great parks,
…walking the trails on the West coast or the East coast,
…watching a game, or fireworks in Toronto,
…sitting with a friend at a café in Montréal or Saskatoon,
…or enjoying one of the countless lakes and rivers that knit our country together.
I hope you are out and about, regardless of what Mother Nature sends our way.
After all, we are a land of four solid seasons and it is not a little rain or a little snow that will stop us. In fact, that is another of our connections. Nothing brings Canadians together like a good discussion about our weather—and this year, we’ve certainly seen it all!
Whether you were born here or chose to come and live here, wherever you happen to be, Canada Day is your celebration.
It is about coming together in our communities, with friends, neighbours and family. To celebrate this life we share. To celebrate who we are.
Rain or shine.
And so it’s from a kayak on the banks of the Rideau River that I wish you all the best on this Canada Day.