Governor General Julie Payette’s New Year Message 2020
December 27, 2019
Mon pays – ce n’est pas un pays, c’est l’hiver! My country is not a country, it’s winter! That’s the least we can say!
This time of year, we tend to cuddle inside and seek warmth, mostly because – as Gilles Vigneault points out in his famous song – to avoid “where the flakes swirl with the wind, in this land of blowing snow.”
But once outside, it is so worth it.
Whether you were born here, or chose to come and live here; whether you are just passing through or came here to seek refuge, this is your country, a land of breathtaking beauty that deserves to be explored and celebrated. Rain, snow or shine.
For we are so fortunate. We share values and interests. We can be proud of our diversity, and we are recognized around the world as open, curious, team players, peace-seekers, peace-keepers.
And we are accomplished, like the Indigenous people who have been living here on this ancestral land for thousands of years. Those who taught us to survive in the cold, to appreciate the gift of nature and the importance of community.
I have seen it everywhere I have been this year. Canadians are out there, making a difference, as artists, scientists, athletes and entrepreneurs. Young or old, every one of us is an Ambassador.
This past year, in particular, we were also reminded that the peace we enjoy was won at a terrible cost. We went to France, to Holland and to Italy to commemorate the Second World War, for 75 years ago, our Canadian soldiers were fighting to help liberate Europe from tyranny.
What is striking when we visit Canadian war cemeteries abroad are the rows and rows of identical tombstones, all engraved with a single maple leaf, a name, a date. As I watched our veterans – these brave soldiers from another era – walking amongst the graves of their fallen comrades, I could not help but being moved. Many had died before their 20th birthday, some had died just before Christmas, all died in a distant land, far away from home.
It forces us to reflect on the meaning of life, its surprises and its friendships, but also its injustices and its suffering. And it forces use to reflect on the absolute necessity to stand up against hate and violence and to work together, hand in hand, for the common good.
The great Gilles Vigneault also captured this essence in his beautiful winter poem. He wrote:
“My home is your home
With time and space
I build a fire, and prepare a place
For people, near and far
For we all share a human race.”
I hope that you are enjoying the holiday season with people you love, with friends and family. I hope that you are staying active, and that you are lending a hand, in your own personal way, to those who have less and those who are in need.
Happy New Year to all of you. Happy New Year, Canada.