OTTAWA – Leaders Ledger – In the little over a year since I was installed as Governor General, Sharon and I have had the opportunity to travel to almost every corner of our country—and to meet with Canadians from nearly every walk of life. It has been a remarkable experience.
What has struck us most is the generosity of Canadians. Generous with their talents, their time and their treasure. More than 80% of Canadians make some kind of financial donation to a worthy cause every year. And some 12 million Canadians spend over two billion hours volunteering.
Those are impressive numbers and speak to the kind of people we are—and the kind of country we’ve built. We are a nation of barn raisers.
Whether it’s because of the geography we share or the climate we endure, giving seems to crop up everywhere in our society. We are bound to one another. And every day, in countless ways large and small, Canadians demonstrate their gift for giving.
I have been reflecting upon the generosity of Canadians while thinking about the year ahead. In every new year lies the promise of a new beginning.
An opportunity to improve our lives and enrich our country. And as Canada approaches its 150th anniversary, in 2017, it’s time to renew our efforts to imagine the kind of country we want—and to start building it in the New Year.
Imagine a smarter, more caring Canada. A Canada where giving—in all its forms—time, talent, altruism become an even more integral part of our daily lives—a main stream part of being Canadian.
During the holiday season, each of us can plainly see the effect that the spirit of generosity and goodwill has upon our lives and our communities. And each year we ask ourselves, ‘Why can’t every day be so full of sharing?’
Indeed, ‘Why not?’ An everyday culture of giving is one of the defining features of successful societies everywhere. This has been the case throughout Canada’s past, but we cannot take it for granted. Together, let us renew our gift for giving as we look to the future.
By celebrating and encouraging volunteerism and philanthropy, by calling on that fundamental commitment from our fellow citizens, we build a smarter and more caring Canada, one barn at a time.
The year ahead will also mark important milestones. Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, will celebrate her diamond jubilee—60 years of inimitable service. To honour Her Majesty, we are creating a Diamond Jubilee Medal which will recognize 60,000 Canadians for their contributions to our country.
This coming year we will also celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Grey Cup, donated by a former Governor General, Lord Grey. And we will mark the 40th year in which the Decorations for Bravery and the Order of Military Merit have been awarded to Canadians for acts of heroism, at home and abroad.
As we look ahead to new beginnings and new opportunities for service, Sharon and I, and all of our family, wish you and your loved ones peace, prosperity, good health and joy in being Canadian.