APTN National News
OTTAWA–Canada’s new Governor General was sworn in Friday saying he was looking forward to meeting with “Aboriginal families” in his first speech as the country’s new representative of the Queen.
In his speech, David Johnston said that families, learning and charity would be his top priorities over his next five years as resident of Rideau Hall. Johnston said he had much to learn from First Nations, Inuit and Metis culture.
“We are looking forward to meeting Aboriginal families and children and learning from them,” said Johnston. “We all have much to learn from First Nations, Inuit and Metis cultures. We are excited about being able to share this vital part of our collective history.”
Assembly of First Nations national Chief Shawn Atleo attended the swearing-in and gave Johnston a hand drum after a performance.
Johnston was sworn in by the chief justice of the Supreme Court and a 21-gun salute thundered over Parliament Hill as the Governor General’s blue flag rose atop the Peace Tower.
The event began with Johnston and his wife Sharon emerging from a limousine beneath the Peace Tower where they were greeted by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and a military guard of honour.
The Usher of the Black Rod then led the process through the arched and marbled Hall of Honour to the Senate chamber.
Johnston, originally from Sudbury, Ont. and a former university president, was handed roses from 13 Canadians representing the provinces and territories as he walked to the swearing-in.
Two people from the north were in that procession. Bryan Nitsiza is from the T’licho community in the Northwest Territories and Candice Sudlovenick is an Inuk from Iqaluit.
Johnston was praised as a “guardian” of the “rope that binds the generations” by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
“All through his life, David Johnston has been driven by the intense belief that service is not merely an option. It is a duty, an obligation of the heart that honour compels a man to accept,” said Harper. “This tradition of service will carry our beloved country forward…And tradition…is the rope that binds the generations, past and future, the threads that form the fabric of society. Sir, you have a great role to play as guardian of those traditions and of all that makes our country great.”
In his speech Johnston said that Canada was a “smart and caring nation,” but much work was needed to ensure these qualities lasted into the future.
“A nation where all Canadians can grow their talents to the maximum,” said Johnston. “A nation where all Canadians can succeed and contribute. But there is much work to be done to fully achieve our vision of a smart and caring nation.”
Johnston also spoke about his wife Sharon and how they first dated when she was 13 and that after 46 years of marriage she was still his “best friend, my inspiration and the wind beneath my wings.”
He also said he had five daughters and seven grandchildren.
Johnston also spoke about Canada’s upcoming 150th anniversary mused about what the country would look like in 2017.
“As we look forward to celebrating our 150th birthday, seven short years from now, what will our nation look like and how will we get there?” said Johnston. “Two Latin words capture our challenge succinctly–Contemplare Melioria–to envision to envision a better world. They mirror the motto of the Order of Canada–they desire a better country…Service to our country shaped us, service to family and community sustain us, and this tradition of service will carry us forward into the future.”