Governor General of Canada

Governor General of Canada

June 12, 2007 19:15 ET

Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaelle Jean: Speech on the Occasion of a Visit to Mishkeegogamang

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MISHKEEGOGAMANG, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - June 12, 2007) -

I am honoured to be with you today during the 33rd Conference of Ontario Aboriginal Chiefs, and I sincerely thank you, Chief Beardy, for your kind invitation.

It is a great privilege for me to speak before a gathering of leaders like this, in the province that has the highest Aboriginal population in the country.

I am a woman of action, and a woman who believes in hope.

And it is with hope that I stand before you today.

Since my installation as the 27th Governor General of Canada, I have visited Aboriginal communities all across the country.

Young people, women, elders and chiefs have all shared their vision of the world with me.

I am also getting ready for my third visit north of the sixtieth parallel next week; I will be in Yukon to celebrate National Aboriginal Day.

And on my first official visit overseas, I travelled with Aboriginal veterans to Normandy, in France, for a spiritual journey to the battlefields of the First and Second World Wars.

That is how important I believe Aboriginal people are, not only to the framework of this country, but to the international community.

I know that history never tells the whole story, and that it is sometimes biased.

It is my firmest belief that the freedom and prosperity of this country should not be the privilege of some to the detriment of others.

I would even say that Canada's freedom and prosperity start with the spirit of these open spaces and the generous land you, the Aboriginal people, have shared with us.

You are the ones who first celebrated the wealth of this land and who taught us to put down roots on this continent.

Wherever I travel in Canada and around the world, I like to remind everyone that the Aboriginal people are our deepest roots in the Americas.

It is unworthy of a country like ours, so proud of its achievements, not to recognize the priceless contribution that Aboriginals have made to our history, our unique identity and our aspirations for the future.

I think that everyone's future depends largely on our ability to recognize and transcend our sadness and our losses.

And on our willingness to allow the forces of creation to vanquish the forces of destruction, which is not always easy.

But it is precisely because it is difficult that this responsibility is essential and-in my opinion-noble and commendable.

It is a responsibility that all of us here share.

We must assume this responsibility for the generations that will follow us.

Earlier today, I met with young people from this community who were full of fire and promise.

I hope you will indulge me and let me tell you what I told the children.

I told them it was their responsibility to take control of their destinies.

I told them to dream big.

Together, we discussed what communities in Northern Ontario needed the most.

Doctors? Nurses? Teachers? Engineers? Architects? Historians? Mechanics? Plumbers? Carpenters? Foresters? Lawyers?

And I saw in each of those children the desire to achieve those dreams.

I shared with them my grandmother's words of wisdom: education is the doorway to freedom.

It is up to us to ensure that our children are safe and to tell them that they can find the means-through learning and education-of improving their lives and their communities.

We must turn these girls and boys into the leaders who will follow in your footsteps.

I told them how important it was for them to preserve their traditions, their experiences and their language, not only for the sake of our country, but for the sake of humanity.

We have to keep these glimmers of hope alive in our children and convince them that anything is possible when you work hard.

And we must ensure that they never lose the dignity that you instil in them, no matter what difficult, or even unacceptable, circumstances they may face.

Young people are one of my priorities.

I want education to give our young people the freedom to make choices and to access opportunities that could help the entire country.

It is up to us to ensure that they are not afraid to dream.

Of course, the education they receive in school only adds to the traditional knowledge that gets passed from generation to generation.

What matters is that we help our children and our young people to explore a wide range of knowledge and to take great pride in who they are.

Young people are the reason I am standing before you today.

In order for young people to find renewed confidence in their elders, they are looking to their experience, memory and especially-most especially-their affection.

We must not turn our backs on our children.

Instead, let us reach out to them and teach them to rely on promises of renewal.

Let us give them the opportunity and the desire to live.

To live in a world that is better than the one we have given them.

Thank you for dreaming with me today, and for believing.

I wish you all every success throughout this conference.

Contact Information

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    Isabelle Serrurier