29th Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, former Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme
The Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell is an energetic and highly regarded renaissance woman, an accomplished civil servant with wide-ranging interests, and is passionately devoted to the advancement of humanity. An intelligent, perceptive, and compassionate woman, Ms. Dowdeswell has devoted herself to public service, where her talents and skills have contributed greatly to many important initiatives, most notably those that integrate environmental, economic, social, educational, and cultural concerns.
She cares deeply about the environment, which she considers the fundamental basis for life on earth. She has led provincial, federal, and international institutions, and has served on the boards of corporate and non-profit organizations. Her years as an Under-Secretary-General at the United Nations profoundly shaped her worldview and continue to inform her thinking as she undertakes her role as 29th Lieutenant Governor of Ontario.
Her overarching and ambitious vision is Ontario in the world. She wants to listen to Ontarians and engage them in meaningful dialogue about what they can contribute and learn from others in meeting the common challenges of our interconnected world. Her Honour’s aim is to bring multiple perspectives to the table, encourage innovation, and cultivate new ideas, sparking action and commitment to seeing these ideas move forward.
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.
As the flame was extinguished at yesterday evening's closing ceremonies of the Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, I reflected on Paralympians and Olympians. Some of the most powerful words in the English language came to mind: inspiration and spirit, dedication and sacrifice, pride.
Canada was not quite 50 years old when the battle was fought. As Canada approaches its 150th anniversary, and the battle its 100th, it is an important moment to contemplate the values we want to uphold, and the role we wish to play in the world.
During the past 30 years, more than 600 people from all walks of life have been invested into Order of Ontario. They are your neighbours. They represent the best of who we can be, and are united by their exceptional achievements and service to others. The Order of Ontario is how we recognize and celebrate those who have enriched our lives.
What is also clear is that the arrival of these refugee families is not the end of the process, but merely the end of the beginning. With the kindness and compassion present in so many Ontario communities large and small, it is clear that these new Syrian families will receive a warm welcome and be supported as they make a new start in this vast and diverse country.