Hello everyone. I am Julie Payette, Governor General of Canada, and I am speaking to you from Rideau Hall, in Ottawa.
If these were normal times, right now most people would be busy planning gatherings for the holiday season. They would be organizing outings and visits, and family reunions, and New Year parties.
But this year, everything is different.
The world has been battling a deadly virus for 9 long months. There has been a lot of suffering and we mourn those who have passed. But we are not out of the woods yet, and we must keep our guards up, stay distanced and remain patient. But thanks to science, we now see the light at the end of the tunnel. We will meet again.
Canadians have stepped up in a remarkable way throughout the pandemic, showing their resilience and compassion, but none more so than those who serve our country and its citizens, here and abroad. We owe an immense debt of gratitude to the front-line workers, and to you, the men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces and of the Canadian Foreign Service.
Since the beginning of my mandate, I have had the privilege of meeting and working with many of you, and I have witnessed first-hand your immense contribution. Whether you are part of our military deployments, or work as officers in the more than 260 Canadian establishments around the world, you provide essential services, strengthening relationships and advancing Canada’s interests, in a spirit of collaboration and respect.
From the onset of the pandemic, I saw the troops go beyond the call of duty to assist and support, and I admired the skills of our foreign service officers as they coordinated the safe return of Canadians, all the while, continuing their work in a new reality of lockdowns, masks and public health restrictions.
I know how exacting the duties of personnel deployed overseas can be in today’s increasingly complex world. You live your lives around service and dedication, often under demanding conditions, sometimes at significant risks, and always away from home.
For this, and for all you do for the nation, I thank you. Your work matters and you serve with integrity, courage and commitment. You are all extraordinary ambassadors of Canada.
In closing, let me pay tribute to those members of the Canadian Armed Forces who lost their lives serving our country this year. And I would also like to salute the military and diplomatic families across Canada whose love and encouragement allow you to perform at your very best, wherever you may be.
Happy holidays and all the best to you and to your loved ones for the new year.
Take care and please stay safe.