Governor general David Johnston was in Montreal Tuesday to hand out the Governor General's Caring Canadian Award to 10 palliative care volunteers.

The award winners all hail from the "Palli-Ami" Foundation, and work in the palliative care unit at the Notre Dame Hospital.

There was an award ceremony and a cocktail reception at the hospital’s Mailloux Pavillion Tuesday afternoon for the volunteers, who each have at least a decade of experience working with patients in palliative care.

They were chosen because of their compassion and their professionalism while helping patients facing their final days.

Dominique Garant, the director general of Palli-Ami, said the honour is a reflection of the work of their entire team of palliative care volunteers- 56 in all.

Johnston said the volunteers all share two key characteristics.

“One is a remarkable empathy with people. And secondly is a lovely sense of humor, a sense that one can find joy in life even in very challenging circumstances,” he said

Martine Roy, one of the award recipients, said finds it therapeutic to work with the patients she works with.

“You know, we do get the recognition from the patients … and that's very enriching,” she said.

Roy said working in that field can be difficult when the patient’s loved ones are having a hard time. She also explained that while she realizes the patients are sick physically, she reminds herself that when she’s working with them, they are as alive as she is.

“What these people do is they remind me that (life) can be very short, even for myself,” she said.