Closing of the Conference of Lieutenant Governors and Commissioners
Iqaluit, Sunday, May 31, 2009
Let me begin by thanking you all for having made this year’s Conference of the Lieutenant Governors and Commissioners such a resounding success.
The decision to hold the event to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the creation of the government of Nunavut constitutes an ingenuous way to connect the oldest public institution in the country, which we occupy, with the ever-evolving social realities of the country we love and share.
As we deliberated together at the conference, I was very impressed by the quality and scope of our discussions as well as the sheer depth of the presentations we heard over the last three days.
Beyond any doubt, we discovered in Nunavut a territory, rich in its people, history, natural resources, whose residents desire to achieve their collective aspiration of a more prosperous, environmentally sound and sustainable territory.
Yet what was perhaps most unforgettable and meaningful to me was the privilege of having you join me at the first Governor General’s Urban Arts Forum to be held in the North.
It was memorable because it allowed me to involve you directly in my efforts to cultivate and nurture an organic connection between the lives and realities of ordinary citizens and the institution of the governor general and to encourage greater solidarity and cooperation among the diverse peoples, generations and social groups that comprise the Canada of today.
In fact, the forum demonstrated beyond any doubt that the generations could collaborate and learn from each other in a spirit of mutual respect and reciprocity.
Yes we heard voices tinged with pain and suffering.
Yes we heard pleas for greater support.
Yes we heard the desperate cry of youth confronted with the scourge of drugs, abuse, violence, depression and even suicide.
But we also heard in their stirring testimonies the expression of hope.
The affirmation of personal transformation.
A sense of individual and collective responsibility.
And an audacious yet eloquent commitment to ensure that public officials, no matter their stature, respond to their needs in the affirmative.
Dear friends, what we also witnessed last night was the incredible ways in which the world of the Inuit sages of yore and the contemporary realities of the modern world are being reconciled in the North.
And it is through the prism of the arts that the bridging of tradition and modernity, elder and youth, is taking place.
It is an exciting process.
More and more, hip hop, carving, theatre, circus arts, break-dancing, throat sing, filmmaking, and other art forms are being used as powerful tools to strengthen the identity of the Inuit, to promote and protect their indigenous languages, to express their culture with pride, and to reconcile the population with itself and with others.
As the youth mentioned last night, the arts also constitute a powerful balm that is soothing and empowering the souls of a people who, let us not forget, have faced tremendous upheavals and injustices over the last hundred years.
And youth are leading the way in this regard.
As you know, I have made youth my priority, because I believe in their ability to find solutions to the challenges we are facing today and to change things for the better.
When I was installed as governor general of Canada more than three years ago, I vowed to create in this Office a space where the voices of citizens could be heard and taken seriously, and where society could reflect on ways to pool our efforts, gather our strengths and develop our initiatives for the greater good.
And I always thought that youth should be at the heart of this vision.
For we cannot build a stronger country without helping to empower youth.
Therefore I have used initiatives like the Urban Arts Forums not only as opportunities to give youth a voice, but also as spaces where youth can network and connect with philanthropists, decision-makers, and others who can play a decisive role in helping them achieve their aspirations.
These forums are spaces for intergenerational learning and collaboration.
For example, it is a great pleasure for me to announce that the director of Iqaluit’s Hip Hop Squad was hired last night, on the spot at the youth forum, by Brigadier General Millar, who was in attendance. He will work on infusing hip hop within the Canadian Forces’ cadet and rangers’ program.
That is what bringing the generations together is all about!
Before I close, I would like to say that I look forward to remaining in contact with you.
I hope to pursue, in collaboration with you and your offices, my efforts to reach out to youth of all backgrounds and persuasions and to bridge the generations, cultures and regions that make up our great country.
Representing the Crown provides us all with an incredible opportunity to reach out to our fellow citizens in a unique and meaningful way and to make a difference in their lives.
Every gesture counts.
Let us continue to seize on this opportunity together.
For we all know that in a country as vast as ours, we need to invent new ways of reaching across the distance if we hope to build new networks of solidarity and stronger, more profound and more enriching ties.
That is precisely what we have just done during this conference, and I am certain that the way we see the North and its communities will never be the same.
Chose certaine, le Nord, il vous entre dans le cœur pour ne plus jamais en sortir.
Thank you so much for your enthusiasm. Have a safe trip home. Until next year!