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Rideau Hall, Friday, April 11, 2008
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My husband Jean‑Daniel Lafond and I are delighted to welcome you to Rideau Hall to recognize the excellence you embody in our society.
We are privileged to be in your company today—you, who represent the best in all of us.Since my appointment as governor general, I have made it a priority to listen to youth, to their aspirations and concerns.
And what young people across Canada and around the world tell me is quite simple and so very true.
They tell me that some people get a better start to life. That some people benefit from circumstance, from a positive environment, from support networks that others don’t have.
They tell me that they need to be able to count on generous people, people of conviction, to help them and guide them. People who will encourage them to give their all, no matter what. People who will support them, share their experience with them, trust them.
The role models who inspire us have the power to transform us from the inside out.
This is why they are so important, perhaps even more so in this day and age, when our horizons seem boundless, when there is no limit to what we can do, build, invent.
These role models do more than just show us the way. They push us to go farther than they themselves have gone. They tell us that it is indeed possible to change things, to push back the boundaries, to take the road less travelled. That we must take chances.
Those of you being invested into the Order of Canada today are those role models.
Those examples for us to follow, those sources of inspiration.
You are a treasure, a wealth of knowledge and experience that benefit the entire country, especially our youth, who ask only to follow in your footsteps.
We should be tapping into your talents, making the most of all you have to offer.
In February, I announced that I had begun to call on members of the Order of Canada to create a mentoring network to build bridges between the generations.
The enthusiasm is spreading, the framework in place, and the first group will be ready to go as early as June—we hope!
Many members of the Order have told me of their desire to take action, to get involved, to share with others what they have received, learned, explored and discovered.
They have told me that nothing makes them happier than to see that same passion that drives them and makes their life so complete, so full, burning in a young person’s eyes.
The next generation needs you. It needs to know and to believe that anything is possible to those who dare to reach for the stars and dream big in this country of infinite possibilities.
You are building this country. It is with people of good faith and goodwill, with people who fear nothing, with people who take risks and take chances, that we are all building a country, “a better country,” as the Order’s motto proclaims.
You embody a sense of commitment, an ability to excel, caring for others, passion, a desire to dig deeper, and a willingness to see things through and explore knowledge and life in all their dimensions, the very cornerstones of civic responsibility.
Today, you join a pantheon of great Canadians.
You represent a wide array of disciplines: from justice and human rights to medicine; from the performing arts to the development of leading-edge technologies; from business to literature; from humanitarian and community involvement to history. The list goes on and on.
But the one thing you have in common, despite the range of your fields of endeavour, is that you have all made and continue to make a remarkable difference in the lives of our fellow citizens.
As you join this honour roll this morning, I thank you on behalf of all Canadians.
We have all gained from your accomplishments.
May we all learn from your experiences.
You have shared with us not only the wealth of your thoughts, knowledge, talents and contributions, but the fire of your passion.
Thank you, one and all!
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