Mary Simon is Canada’s first Indigenous Govenor-General

New Governor-General a positive step on the path to reconciliation

By 
  • July 14, 2021

OTTAWA -- The appointment of Mary Simon as Canada’s first Indigenous Governor-General is being hailed as a meaningful step towards reconciliation.

The appointment comes at a time when the country is reeling from the discovery of numerous unmarked grave sites at former residential schools that has reinvigorated the push for a new relationship between Canadian society as a whole and its Indigenous peoples.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Simon is the person needed in the role at this time.

“Ms. Simon has dedicated her life to advancing social, economic and human rights issues for Canadian Inuit and Indigenous peoples, and I am confident that she will serve Canadians and promote our shared values with dedication and integrity,” said Trudeau. “Through this appointment, we are ensuring that Canada is represented by someone who exemplifies the very best of our country.”

Simon, 73, a former ambassador to Denmark and twice the president of the national Inuit organization Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK), also recognizes the importance of the moment.

“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,” Simon said, adding “my appointment comes at an especially reflective and dynamic time in our shared history.”

Indigenous organizations have praised her appointment. Janet Kanayok of the Manitoba Inuit Association told the Indigenous news network APTN that Simon’s appointment is a concrete step towards reconciliation.

“I know a lot are happy that Mary is in that position, because the government talks about reconciliation and now that she’s in that position I think that’s a step forward in all that’s been going on,” said Kanayok. “I think it’s long overdue.”

Current ITK president Natan Obed said Simon’s appointment is a positive step forward.

“I think an Indigenous person as Governor General, in this point in time, can be a part of that positive forward thinking, reconciliation-based conversation,” Obed said.

Simon is from the Ungava Bay area in northeastern Quebec and was involved in negotiating the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement in the 1970s and was an Inuit representative to the patriation of the Canadian Constitution in 1982.

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