Canada's Governor General is using his annual New Year's message to urge Canadians to serve their country by volunteering — for anything.

In a video address from Rideau Hall released on Monday, David Johnston invoked the words of one of his predecessors, Georges Vanier: "If Canada is to attain the greatness worthy of it, each of us must say, 'I ask only to serve.' "

"Each of us has something unique and important to offer, and the New Year provides an opportune time to commit to giving back to Canada," the Governor General said.

"It doesn't matter how you get involved. Just do it. By helping our fellow Canadians; by participating in our civic life; by working to build prosperity in our communities – this is how we build a smarter, more caring and resilient society."

Johnston, a former athlete and captain of the Harvard University hockey team, also asked Canadians to embrace sport and get involved with the major sporting events Canada is hosting in 2015 — including the Pan Am and Parapan Am Games, the FIFA Women's World Cup, the IIHF World Hockey Junior Championships, the 25th edition of the Canada Games and the World Men's Curling Championships.