Governor General, Your Honours, ladies and gentlemen. Ullukkut (good day). Quviasuttunga iqalunnuurama (I'm happy to be here in Iqaluit). My wife and I could not be more delighted to be back in Canada. Arriving here today brings back the happiest of memories, chiefly because this is where I began my first visit to this great country almost fifty years ago. I have never forgotten the warmth of the welcome from the Inuit people, which made me feel instantly at home, as indeed I have with all Canadians on my subsequent visits.
My wife and I are very much looking forward to joining the great national celebration of the modern nation of Canada, established 150 years ago. But we will not forget that the deep connections between the United Kingdom and the Inuit go back more than 400 years.
The lessons of history are both profound and enlightening. Sir Martin Frobisher’s first visit here was to Baffin Island, in 1576. He was looking for the fabled Northwest Passage and a new trade route to the riches of Asia. Instead, he found a people and their Arctic culture, living in harmony with Nature. Today, the Northwest Passage, impassable when Frobisher first came here, is becoming a deeply worrying reality as the results of human activity warm even this remote ocean. This same warming is, tragically, bringing rapid and damaging changes to the Arctic way of life that has sustained the lives of the Inuit since long before Frobisher arrived here on his quest.
Each time I visit Canada I see the strength and resilience of the people who live here, the importance of theirindigenous traditions and the vision and drive that helped shape this extraordinary nation.
I hope that the celebration of 150 years of confederation will encourage all Canadians not just to look back with pride,but also to look forward with hope and inspiration. I know from my previous visits that young Canadians have the vision and strength to create an even better nation in the future. They need and deserve every possible encouragement.
I am sure all Canadians will celebrate and enjoy the party – and we are so very touched to be invited to join you.