Farewell Reception Hosted by Government of Northwest Territories
Yellowknife, NWT, Wednesday, September 6, 2017
What a pleasure to be here with all of you in Yellowknife in this impressive legislature.
As we begin, let me acknowledge that we are gathering on the traditional territory of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation.
Thank you for holding this reception. It caps a wonderful day in the Northwest Territories. We began the day up in Paulatuk, where we arrived yesterday after a three-day journey aboard Canada C3’s Polar Prince, a vessel that’s sailing from Toronto to Victoria via the Northwest Passage as a Canada 150th anniversary project. It was a remarkable voyage!
Before we arrived in Paulatuk, we cruised through beautiful Darnley Bay. It’s an interesting fact that the Canadian Shield originates just east of Darnley Bay, where it slopes upwards and is covered by glacial deposits. I find this quite appropriate, as it reminds us of how fundamentally significant the North is to Canada. It literally forms the bedrock of Canada. This is a northern nation, and so many of our important traditions and histories derive from this place.
Consider this legislature, for example.
It operates around a unique consensus style of government, based upon traditional values and needs here in the North. In a land as vast and challenging as this, you have no choice but to collaborate and seek common ground.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you don’t have your disagreements, which are healthy and necessary in any democracy. But the essential nature of what you do here is based on compromise and co-operation.
The same can be said for all of Canada, and your model of collaboration has inspired me throughout my mandate as governor general. In calling on Canadians to join in building a smarter, more caring nation, it has been examples such as yours that I’ve had in mind.
Up here, you can’t be either/or—you have to be both smart and caring.
The North is a crucible of innovation and collaboration. This building and the city of Yellowknife inspire me in this regard also, as does the community of Paulatuk we visited this morning. In fact, just last year, sculptor and Paulatuk native Abraham Anghik Ruben was invested as an officer of the Order of Canada in a ceremony at Rideau Hall.
As you know, artists from Paulatuk are known across Canada and worldwide for their work in the visual and performing arts. Mr. Ruben, in fact, was the first Inuit artist to have a solo exhibition at the Smithsonian!
And speaking of the Order of Canada, I should add that Yellowknife’s Marie Wilson was invested as a member of the Order a few weeks ago, for her lifelong contributions to the Northwest Territories and her work as a commissioner with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
There are so many creative and truly impressive people in the Northwest Territories, which is why I’m so pleased to be here to visit and to say thank you for all that you do for this community, for this region and for Canada.
And I want to encourage you to continue your determined efforts to build this community. I have no doubt that you will continue to work together in new and old ways.
Never underestimate the power of the example you set in the North, nor your ability to inspire all Canadians to do better.
Thank you once again for honouring me with this reception. It has been a great honour to serve as your governor general.
I wish you all the very best.