Simon, a longtime former Inuit diplomat and human rights activist, says the appointment is an “important step” toward reconciliation.
Indigenous leader Mary Simon will be Canada’s 30th Governor-General, becoming the first Indigenous person to play the most ceremonial role in the country’s history.
At a news conference Tuesday morning, Simon said he was “honored, humble and ready to be Canada’s first Indigenous Governor General.”
“I can confidently say that my appointment is a historic and inspiring moment for Canada and an important step forward on the long road to reconciliation,” he told reporters alongside Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who announced the appointment .
“Ms. Simon’s career in leadership and service has always been about breaking down barriers,” Trudeau said. “We are now honored to have Mrs. Simon as Canada’s first Indigenous Governor General.”
The announcement comes as Indigenous peoples across Canada are leaving the country discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves in former residential schools where the government forced more than 150,000 First Nations, Metis and Inuit children to attend for decades.
“This is a time that I hope all Canadians feel part of because my appointment reflects our collective progress toward building a more inclusive, just and equitable society,” says Mary Simon of her appointment as next Governor General of Canada.#cdnpoli pic.twitter.com/qrlxZ90aRG
– CPAC (@CPAC_TV) July 6, 2021
Former Governor General of Canada Julie Payette He resigned in January, after a report found he had created a toxic environment in the workplace.
Originally from Nunavik, the traditional Inuit territory in northern Quebec, Simon has a long history of fighting for Inuit rights in Canada.
She previously worked with the Inuit Association of Northern Quebec (NQIA), which later changed its name to Makivik Corporation, and also served as president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK), a national Inuit organization.
In 1991 she was appointed to member of the Order of Canada, one of the highest honors in the country, and later an officer of the Order of Canada. She too he served as ambassador to Canada for circumpolar affairs and as ambassador to Denmark.
Inuit welcomed Simon’s appointment Tuesday. “Mary has served Inuit and Canada in numerous prominent roles, including as president of ITK. We wish him extraordinary success in his role at this critical time in our history, ”wrote Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami on Twitter.
“Really proud that Mary Simon is the new GG,” she also tweeted to Alethea filmmaker Arnaquq-Baril. “Mary has achieved a lifetime of incredible work and leadership for Inuit.”
Really proud that Mary Simon is the new GG. Many Indigenous nations do not identify as Canadians, but Inuit do. So anyone trying to disguise an indigenous woman for taking on the role can back off.
Mary has an amazing life of hard work and leadership for Inuit. 👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽 https://t.co/GtSrN06WL9
– Alethea Arnaquq-Baril❄️ (@Alethea_Aggiuq) July 6, 2021
Perry Bellegarde, the outgoing national leader of the Assembly of First Nations, also gave his congratulations. “Mary is a diplomat, an advocate and a strong Inuk woman. I look forward to working with her as a Crown representative in Canada! “he dit.
“Mary Simon is a great choice for GG, with a long list of milestones,” said Hayden King, executive director of the Yellowhead Institute, a First Nations-run research center. he tweeted. “But to be clear, this is the HEIGHT of symbolic Indigenous representation in Canada. Here, you have the most important and powerful role in Parliament … on paper. “
The role of the governor general is mostly ceremonial and includes homework how to convene and dissolve parliament and give royal consent to introduce parliamentary laws, among others.