As many of you will know, David Johnston was recently sworn in as the 28th Governor General of Canada. I was very encouraged to read over the text of Mr. Johnston’s installation speech. In it, he laid out what he referred to as his three pillars: supporting families and children, reinforcing learning and innovation and finally, encouraging philanthropy and volunteerism. Each of these pillars are of course areas in which United Way has dedicated a considerable amount of time and resources to foster positive change in our community.
While the entire speech was very relevant to the work of United Way, the section on philanthropy and volunteerism particularly resonated with me, so I thought I would share it here today:
"Canadians have a long history of coming together and helping one another. The importance of community can be seen across the country, in our rural communities, and in our cities and towns, such as the ones I grew up in, Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie.
I see examples of this “coming together” in the farming neighbourhood where we live. A Mennonite barn-raising with people gathering on the scaffold of a new barn bringing their diverse talents and energy to help a neighbour in need.
I think of Rick Hansen, who this past March marked the 25th anniversary of the day he began his Man in Motion World Tour, and he continues to inspire Canadians everywhere.
And just two weeks ago, millions of Canadians across the country came together to honour the spirit and the achievements of Terry Fox, and the 30th anniversary of his run underscores how Canadians have embraced his cause. In his introduction to his book Terry, Douglas Coupland recalls seeing the thousands upon thousands of names of everyday Canadians in the Fox archives and writes “Collectively, those names testify to something divine—our nation, our home and our soul.”
Examples of generosity and charity abound across this great land.
We create our families and promise a better life for our children, we energetically develop our individual talents, collaborate to magnify them and improve the health and prosperity of our families and communities across the land, and we care about our neighbours.
We will continue to foster and instill the importance of being a generous and caring nation, an idea cherished by Canadians of all backgrounds and all ages."
These words capture very well the essence and spirit of what we call United Way. Creating the generous and caring nation that Mr. Johnston speaks of is what all of us involved in the United Way movement across the country are working towards. It is wonderful to find a champion for these ideals in our new Governor General.
In closing, Mr. Johnston called upon the wisdom of George Bernard Shaw:
“Some people see things as they are and wonder why.
We dream of things that ought to be and ask why not.”
Why not, indeed.
To read the full text of the Governor General’s speech, click here.
Tim Osborne is the Director, Community Building and Investment for United Way of the Alberta Capital Region.