Premier's remarks at the Black History Month reception at Queen's Park
Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedules to be here today.
It's not only Black History Month, it's also the United Nations' International Year for People of African Descent.
We have a lot to celebrate and a lot to contemplate.
First of all, welcome to the Ontario legislature.
This building has been around since 1893.
It's seen many governments.
It's a place where Ontarians make laws, set priorities and come together to decide where we want to go next.
All Ontarians share in that and we all have the opportunity to serve.
Martin Luther King Junior said: "Everybody can be great...because anybody can serve...You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love."
During Black History Month, we take the time to reflect on people who helped build this country and this province.
From the earliest exploration of Canada in 1603, to the NHL in 2011, people of African descent have been an integral part of our nation's narrative.
Here in Ontario, our black history runs deep.
We have so many stories of courage -- so many heroic deeds that have shaped our province's character, so many brave people led through their service to their family, friends and community -- people with hearts full of grace, souls generated by love!
We Ontarians are proud of our black history because it has helped make us who we are.
Here at Queen's Park, many great Black Ontarians have served, trailblazers like Leonard Braithwaite, Zanana Akande, Alvin Curling, Lincoln Alexander, Mary Anne Chambers and Margarett Best.
And now that the trail has been blazed, and now that the precedent is set, we appeal to the next generation of Black Ontarians to take their place here.
To the younger generation I say: understand that it is your right to seek public office.
And understand, too: we need you.
We need your best.
In fact, we need the best from every one of us.
We've just come out of the worst recession in decades.
And I'm glad to say that while for example the U.S. has regained 12 per cent of their jobs, Ontario has regained 95 per cent.
How? We tapped into our greatest strength -- you: our people.
We're not out of the woods yet, not by a long stretch.
And the only way Ontario can truly move forward is if we all do our part.
This province was made great by successive generations of hard-working people.
Our times require each of us to be leaders, to be forces for good in our communities, our families and our businesses.
Because in the new reality of our global economy -- we're competing with everyone out there.
So, we need all Ontarians to feel invested in who we are and what we can achieve.
That can start here, by encouraging and supporting the next generation of Black Ontarians to follow in the footsteps of our great public servants and in their turn, they must open the door for others as we seek to build an inclusive society.
Black History Month is about celebrating where we've been, but it's also about celebrating where we're going!
Let's resolve to work together, to continue building a strong, vibrant, inclusive Ontario for our families.
I want to thank all of you for reaching higher every single day.
Thank you for building more, taking risks, creating jobs, doing your own job well,
loving your families and caring for your community.
Because when you do all that, you build up Ontario, you give our families hope.
And hope is the bedrock upon which we build our bright future together.