As we reflect on the past year, we think of what we have achieved and the challenges we have faced. We come together joyously, generously sharing with those in need. We optimistically explore what the future will bring.
As Ontario's Lieutenant Governor, I too have been thinking about past and future.
It has been such a privilege to be welcomed into your homes, places of work and worship, and communities. We have shared anniversaries, commemorations, performances, and special events. I have always been treated with kindness and generosity.
It has been an honour to recognize those many Ontarians who bring credit to our province: volunteers, who have given so much back to their own communities without any expectation of recognition or reward; scientists and innovators, who demonstrate excellence in solving some of our most intractable problems; those in arts and culture, who creatively remind us of what makes a civilized society; public servants, who quietly and daily provide the services we take for granted; first responders, who keep us safe; members of the Canadian Armed Forces, whose devotion to duty gives evidence of Canada's commitment to justice and caring around the world; and those who welcomed immigrants with open minds and open arms.
All of you remind me daily of who we are as Ontarians, and you fill me with pride about the cohesive society we continue to build.
It is then with good reason that I am eager to embrace 2017: 150 years of Confederation, 150 years of stability yet evolution as a country, and 150 years of progress and an appetite for becoming even better.
This is a year when we can probe the nature of who we are as Ontarians.
Yes, it is a time to celebrate, but also a year for thoughtful consideration and genuine dialogue about what we want for the future.
This is a year when we can continue to make strides in achieving reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples, who have long been stewards of this land. It is a year when we can learn together and heal with respect.
This is a year when we can probe the nature of who we are as Ontarians. What makes Ontario Ontario? Who feels a true sense of belonging and who does not? Why? Are some of us being left behind? Will we create opportunities to listen to each other's stories? Will we improve our understanding, empathy, and acceptance of the Other? Will we see our diversity as an asset to be nurtured?
Surely this will be a year when we can be visionary, contributing innovative ideas in science and technology, social cohesion, governance, inclusive economic prosperity, and environmental stewardship.
Can we tap into the energies and imaginations of a new generation of young people? Can we at the same time benefit from the insights and wisdom of our elders? As has been said, "the future is open to those with curious minds and open hearts."
Perhaps we can start the discussion at my annual New Year's Levee, to be held at Queen's Park in Toronto on Sunday, January 1, 2017, from noon to two o'clock. Please join me and some of your fellow Ontarians.
In the name of Her Majesty The Queen, I wish you a happy and healthy holiday season. May we cherish human dignity, generosity, and peace in this world of uncertainty.
Follow HuffPost Canada Blogs on Facebook
Follow The Hon. Elizabeth Dowdeswell on Twitter: www.twitter.com/LGLizDowdeswell