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First Indigenous Governor General of Canada

Tuesday July 6, 2021 | NATIONAL [updated July 16 & 26, 2021]

by Mary P Brooke, Editor | Island Social Trends


Today Canada learned that this country will have a new Governor General. The approval of the appointment of Ms Mary Simon — who is of Indigenous heritage — signals a huge shift in the consciousness of Canada. She is the first person of Indigenous heritage to hold the formal role.

Today Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that on his recommendation, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has approved the appointment of Mary Simon as the next Governor General of Canada.

As Governor General, Ms. Simon will be the representative of Her Majesty The Queen in Canada. She will be Canada’s 30th Governor General since Confederation, and the 13th Governor General appointed by Her Majesty during her 69 years on the throne.

Canada has been without a Governor General since January of this year when former Governor General Julie Payette moved on after three years and three months on the job.

The appointment of Ms Simon will take place toward the end of July (actual installation date July 26, 2021). That also, incidentally, makes the process of dissolution government easier for the current prime minister, should he wish to call a federal election.

justin trudeau
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Mary Simon as the new Governor General of Canada, on July 6, 2021 in Gatineau, Que. [screenshot]

Along the path of reconciliation:

“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,” said Simon from the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Que. 

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

Mary Simon’s career background:

mary simon. whit fraser
Mary Simon and her husband Whit Fraser leave after an announcement at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Que. on Tuesday July 6, 2021. Simon. [THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick]

Throughout her distinguished career, Ms. Simon has been a tireless advocate for Inuit rights and culture, and the rights of all Indigenous peoples. Over four decades, she has held various senior leadership positions, including President of Makivik Corporation, where she helped to protect and promote Inuit rights through the implementation of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement. She also served two terms as President of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference, now known as the Inuit Circumpolar Council, and as President of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami.

As the first Canadian Ambassador for Circumpolar Affairs, Ms. Simon played a leading role in strengthening the ties between the people of the Arctic regions nationally and internationally, including through the creation of the Arctic Council. She is also the founder of the Arctic Children and Youth Foundation, and has served as the Ambassador of Canada to Denmark.

The selection was informed through the advice of the Advisory Group on the Selection of the Next Governor General. The group was mandated to deliberate and submit a shortlist of outstanding Canadians for the Prime Minister’s consideration to fill the office.

Heritage & family:

Simon is an Inuk from Kuujjuaq, a village on the coast of Ungava Bay in northeastern Quebec. She was born to a local Inuk woman and a fur trader father who worked at a Hudson’s Bay Company outpost.

Ms Simon is married to Whit Fraser, a communicator and broadcaster specializing in Canada’s Arctic. He has been a CBC Broadcaster, Chairman of the Canadian Polar Commission, Executive Director with the National Inuit organization, consultant and freelance writer.

Sooke Fine Arts Show, 2021
The 2021 Sooke Fine Arts Show runs July 23 through August 2 online.