On this day exactly six years ago, our government was first sworn into office by then Governor General Michaëlle Jean. But it was on this very day 60 years ago – in other words, over a period ten times as long – that Her Majesty Elizabeth II acceded to the Throne as Queen of Canada. Six decades later, we offer our deep appreciation for her lifetime of devotion.
On this occasion, we inaugurate an honour recognizing that same spirit of service among Canadians across the country. The Diamond Jubilee Medal, which The Queen has personally approved, is the cornerstone of our celebration of her 60th year on the throne – an honour intended to recognize thousands of Canadians for selfless devotion to their fellow citizens and to our country.
Thus, in this grand room, we see the good heart of a great nation. The recipients of this medal are drawn from every walk of life in every region of Canada, in all its magnificent variety. Ladies and gentlemen, you exemplify the virtues that built our country, the principles that guide it, and the hope that draws it forward. Allow me to offer a few examples of the calibre of Canadian being honoured here today.
In Halifax, Mel Boutilier, volunteer executive director of the Community Care Network Society, has extended a helping hand to those in need or distress for more than 30 years. He shows us the countless wonders, great and small, that are worked through kindness in action.
From Quebec, Alex Bilodeau is famous for winning a different medal, two years ago. He was the first Canadian to win Olympic gold right here in Canada. His victory was the thrilling start of an unprecedented triumph for our country.
A member of the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory, Roberta Jamieson, has many firsts to her name. She is dedicated to helping First Nations, Métis and Inuit youth reach their full potential, and in her many accomplishments, she is a model for us all.
In Winnipeg, Hannah Taylor also reminds us never to underestimate our young Canadians. Hannah’s Ladybug Foundation makes a difference in the lives of those who are poor and homeless.
John Bishop from Vancouver Island is national president of the Korea Veterans Association of Canada. He works to support and honour our Canadian heroes and their families – a most noble and necessary cause.
Ladies and gentlemen, these are only five of the 60 wonderful stories in this room. As you are called forward, we will hear more about the good work being done, every day, in communities across our country, in service to Canada and our fellow Canadians.
When I consider Canada’s future, the spirit of service reflected in those here today, and the thousands of other Canadians who will be awarded the Diamond Jubilee Medal over the course of the year, it gives me great hope for our country. As Prime Minister, on behalf of your fellow Canadians, I thank you and I congratulate you.