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Remarks by the Hon. Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario.

National Ethnic Press and Media Council of Canada Awards

Friday, November 4, 2016

Mr. Saras, ladies and gentlemen, mesdames et messieurs: Good evening, bonsoir, boozhoo. Welcome to the Lieutenant Governor’s Suite. Bienvenue dans les appartements du lieutenant-gouverneur.

I want to begin by acknowledging Toronto as a sacred gathering place for the many Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island. I recognize the long history of First Nations and Métis Peoples in Ontario and show respect in particular to the Mississaugas of New Credit.

Tonight we celebrate the best of Canada’s ethnic press and media, and those who have provided distinguished services to the communities that they represent. It is a distinct pleasure to host this event again this year.
I thank you all for sharing this evening with me.

Over the past year, I have travelled across our province, listening to the stories of Ontarians. One theme that has emerged has been of the hardships—but also the tremendous happiness—associated with immigration: From stories of Canada’s very first black settlers, who were commemorated at the newly restored Black Church at Oro-Medonte this summer, to those of the refugees from Syria who came to Pearson Airport this past December and have become some of our newest residents.

Represented here tonight are media outlets that offer cultural lifelines for generations of immigrants—not only back to their geographical roots but also between one another, and between their communities and others. I recognize and applaud the great work you are doing to help maintain community ties, and to build and strengthen new ones.

The incredible number of cultures that the National Ethnic Press and Media Council of Canada represents clearly shows that diversity in Canada is thriving. It is remarkable to think how an organization representing six papers in 1985 has grown to one encompassing 750 outlets, in over 90 languages.

And all of these organizations are independently funded, something that is quite impressive at this time when we hear so much about the decline of the printed word and of the struggles faced by the media. Clearly this is a time of change within the industry, but it is also a time when we need journalists more than ever.

Often we hear that, globally, we are living in a “post-factual” age in which too much rhetoric of fear and hatred goes unchallenged. We need journalists’ tenacity in research, your willingness to find new and important perspectives on every story, your drive for accuracy, and your keen attention to the human element behind all the facts and figures.

I believe that Canada, with our freedom of the press, can help stem the tide of fear and mistrust, and representatives of the ethnic press gathered here are especially important. Your community ties enable you to tell stories that would not be told otherwise—and that need to be told.

To the recipients of journalism awards and to the outlets they represent: Thank you for your endeavour in bringing these stories to light. Each of you helps to define, and create, a sense of social cohesion that is essential to us all.

What’s more, the stories that you tell help shine a light on those who, through their commitment to social justice, equality, culture, and diversity, are also being recognized tonight.

To all of tonight’s distinguished service recipients: Thank you for your time and your devotion to helping bring about the kind of just and open society that all of us want to see, as we look forward to the 150th anniversary of Confederation.

And to Mr. Saras, thank you for your vision, for embracing diversity in your industry over more than three decades, and for bringing us all together in celebration.

May you all continue to do your brave and necessary work, reminding us daily that there is no community without communication.

Thank you. Merci. Miigwech.