Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean Speech on the Occasion of a Community Gathering
Tuktoyaktuk, Wednesday, April 16, 2008
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This is second time that I have travelled here, to the Northwest Territories, and the fourth time that I have crossed the 60th parallel since my installation as governor general.But I have never travelled this far into the circumpolar region.
We are in the north of the North.
At the gateway to Pingo Canadian Landmark.
At the end of an ice road.
On the shores of the Arctic Ocean.
We are at the edge of the world.
It is a privilege for me to be here.
Very few Canadians have this extraordinary opportunity to visit this region filled with treasures or to set eyes on the Far North, despite the fact that it is the largest part of our country.
I intend to make the most of my day here with you.
I have heard so much about you, the people of Tuk. About your cultures, your languages, the way you see the world and the way you live.
And about your history. A history of endurance, resourcefulness and wisdom dating back thousands of years.
I have heard so much about your resilience.
In a very short period of time, you have been forced to change from a nomadic to a sedentary way of life.
I know the full measure of determination and courage it took for you to preserve your stories, traditions, cultures and languages as you found yourselves suddenly thrust into a completely different world.
One thing is clear: the North is at a turning point in its history and development.
It is urgent that you prepare your youth to take the lead in developing your resources, in all aspects of society.
I would now like to speak directly to the young people here today, if I may.
Dare to dream big. Make those dreams a reality. Seize every opportunity and do so with confidence and pride in who you are.
What is your dream? To become a doctor, mechanic, pilot, sculptor, architect, cook, carpenter, engineer, truck driver, or even governor general? Why not?
I for one believe in your dream, and I can already see you becoming a new generation of northern youth, ready to help shape the future of your communities, our country and the world.
Above all, don’t be afraid to dream big and never doubt yourselves.
We discussed this very thing at the Summit on Inuit Education in Inuvik, which brought together educators from across Canada’s Arctic.
To inspire in youth the desire to learn, to explore life and the world in all their dimensions, is to give your communities the tools they need to grow and prosper.
I have come here to meet with you so that we might get to know one another, so that I may begin to understand your realities and share your message wherever I go.
Above all, I have come to listen.
To you, the younger generation.
To you, the elders.
Because when we are willing to learn from one another, we can all grow together. Let’s take the time to get to know one another.
I was born in the poorest country in the Americas, Haiti, and came to Canada as a child. I never could have imagined that one day, I would have the immense privilege of crossing the Arctic Circle to stand before you now and tell you how proud I am of you.
Here with you now, I am living out a dream that I have long held in my heart.