The Honourable Janice Filmon, C.M., O.M.
Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba
Wednesday, March 13, 2019 – 5:00 p.m.
Fellow Canadians, supporters of democracy, human rights and the rest of the values of the Commonwealth of Nations, welcome to this celebration of a great force of peace, co-operation and understanding.
We are gathered on Treaty One land, on the traditional territory of the Anishinaabe and the homeland of the Metis people.
We’ve come together near a meeting of rivers that served as a gathering place for nations and peoples for uncounted years before this building was inaugurated.
Here along the Red River, the first nations of the northern forests and the open plains have met for trade and exchange of ideas. Here successive waves of French and English speakers, Metis and Scots, Icelanders, Ukrainians, Mennonites and waves of newcomers from around the world built a community that has learned that diversity makes us stronger and richer.
So as Manitobans, it’s natural that we should see the Commonwealth of Nations as a powerful force to bring together a world that sometimes seems to be fracturing along lines of ideology.
The 53 nations of the Commonwealth of Nations include the world’s second largest in area and second most populous as well as several of the world’s smallest.
Some Commonwealth nations have Christian majorities, some Muslim, others Hindu or Buddhist. Many have substantial numbers of many faiths.
There are countries in the Commonwealth with one, two and even 22 official languages.
And yet, for all of their differences, the Commonwealth nations are united by a common set of values. These values protect individual freedom while addressing the needs of the most vulnerable members. They affirm human dignity, address the importance of a healthy environment, and recognize the need for institutions that maintain open societies and good government.
At a time when divisions between countries seem to be growing, when walls, metaphorical or otherwise, are going up around the world, the Commonwealth of Nations is something to celebrate.
I thank the members of the Royal Commonwealth Society of Manitoba for their work in spreading the good news of a gathering of nations we should all be proud of.
In our own lives, in our communities, our work, our volunteer activities, let’s follow the example of the Commonwealth by building connections and understanding.
Happy Commonwealth Day. Thank you. Merci. Meegwich.