Mary Simon first Indigenous Governor-General

Mary Simon is Canada’s first Indigenous Governor-General

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the announcement in Gatineau this morning.

The 30th Governor-General of Canada is Nunavik-born former diplomat Mary Simon, as announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a press conference with Simon in Gatineau, Quebec this morning. She is the first Indigenous person to be appointed Governor-General in Canada.

“I would like to thank the Prime Minister for such a warm and thoughtful introduction, and for this very historic opportunity,” Simon said. “I am honoured and humbled and ready to be Canada’s first Indigenous Governor-General. I would also like to thank her majesty Queen Elizabeth for placing her trust and confidence in me to represent her in this wonderful country of ours.

“I can confidently say that my appointment is a historic and inspirational moment for Canada and an important step forward on the long path towards reconciliation. This is the moment that I hope all Canadians feel part of because my appointment reflects our collective progress towards building a more inclusive, just and equitable society.

“We must fully recognize, memorialize and come to terms with the atrocities of our collective past, which we are learning more about each day,” Simon added. “That means we must thoughtfully work hard towards the promise of a better tomorrow. I believe we can build a hopeful future in a way that is respectful of what has happened in the past. It means supporting the well-being of people by focusing on our youth and improved educational outcomes for all of our children. It means prioritizing the protection of our natural world so that we can have a healthy climate and planet for generations to come.

“I believe strongly that if we embrace our common humanity and shared responsibility for one another, Canada’s best days are yet to come. I am dedicated to doing everything in my power to build and inspire that future. And to all the women and girls out there, please know that we need more of your voices and perspectives in leadership positions across this country. I hope you use my appointment to believe with increased conviction that anything is possible.”

Justin Trudeau announces the next Governor-General of Canada, Mary Simon

After working as a producer at CBC North, Simon devoted her career to advocating for Indigenous rights, according to a CBC report. She helped negotiate the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement in 1975,  became leader of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference (representing the Inuit in all the Arctic countries) in 1986, served as Canada’s ambassador to Denmark from 1999 to 2001 and became the country’s first Arctic ambassador in 2002. She is also the former president of national Inuit organization Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, and is currently a fellow with the Arctic Institute of North America. Mary Simon is a recipient of the Order of Canada, among many other honours.

Today’s appointment follows the resignation of former governor-general Julie Payette in January. ■

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