July 1, 2021
I wish to begin by saying that as Treaty people, we acknowledge all our First Peoples who have called this place home for thousands of years, and who welcomed us here to make our own lives. May we always dwell together on these lands with respect and peace.
Canada Day 2021 finds us at a singular moment in our history. It is an opportunity to take time for reflection, to remember our collective strengths, and to address sober realities that cry out for recognition.
The recent discoveries of unmarked graves on residential school sites is a shocking reminder of the painful history of our Indigenous sisters and brothers. Maskwacis Elder Roy Louis, Knowledge Keeper for my Office, reflected with me that these discoveries are indeed extremely sad, yet they provide for us a profound opportunity to acknowledge the truths of the past, to seek understanding, to help heal wounds, and to move forward together with compassion and mutual respect.
Today, let us also promise to be mindful that many people face obstacles to achieving their dreams and experiencing the full measure of our country’s promise. Fellow Canadians in our communities find their lives challenged by terrible acts of racism and violence, just because of the way they dress or the faith they pursue. This includes a disturbing number of attacks on Muslim Canadians. These senseless assaults diminish each one of us.
On another front, COVID-19 has robbed us of a heartbreaking number of friends and loved ones over the past 18 months, and it has compromised many more livelihoods. And now, hope is around the corner. The lifting of restrictions will allow us to see family and friends and to enjoy favorite activities after more than a year of pandemic constraints. We achieved this great milestone by exhibiting the best of the Canadian spirit…by working together, by looking out for vulnerable members of our society, and by generously sharing our kindness, patience and compassion. We can look forward to the return of full and vibrant community life and, perhaps, to fulfilling some of the dreams that may have taken root in the abundance of solitude that the pandemic demanded of us all.
Although there are challenges that must not be ignored, I remain very optimistic about the future. Our country, this promise of peace, equality and freedom that we celebrate on Canada Day, is the result of each generation working hard and contributing their best so that future Canadians would flourish. We are all part of this ongoing continuum and each of us can play a meaningful role in ensuring that Canada remains an ideal, and a home, that we are proud to celebrate, today and every day.
Her Honour, the Honourable Salma Lakhani AOE, B.Sc., LLD (hon)
Lieutenant Governor of Alberta