Mary Simon appointed Governor-General

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Mary Simon called her appointment as Governor-General a “step forward on the long path to reconciliation.”

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In assuming the role of the Queen’s representative in Canada, Simon becomes the first Indigenous person to hold the position.

Her appointment was announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at a news conference Tuesday at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Que.

“Today, after 154 years, our country takes a historic step. I cannot think of a better person to meet the moment,” Trudeau said.

Simon has worked with both Liberal and Conservative governments in a number of roles over the years, including as Canada’s ambassador to Denmark, the president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami — an advocacy for Inuit issues — and as an advisor on NAFTA negotiations.

She has also served as chancellor of Trent University and as a mentor with the Trudeau Foundation.

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Born in Kangiqsualujjuaq, Que., on the shores of Ungava Bay, Simon’s career has taken her around the world and now to Rideau Hall.

The job at Rideau Hall opened up in January after former astronaut Julie Payette resigned her post as vice-regal amid a controversy over her treatment of staff.

Trudeau faced criticism for his appointment of Payette and his decision to disband the federal advisory committee established to vet prospective candidates.

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The government did establish an advisory panel after Payette’s departure with Trudeau revealing that more than 100 people were considered by the committee, which was looking for someone “anchored” in humility and thoughtfulness.

“Mary Simon embodied all those qualities of leadership and service,” Trudeau said.

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The appointment was well-received by most, but not all. Simon speaks both English and Inuktitut but not French, though she has promised to learn.

Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet reacted to the appointment without mentioning Simon’s lack of French; instead, he attacked the very existence of the position.

“It is neither a representative, nor elected, nor a legitimate function,” Blanchet said.

  1. Mary Simon speaks during an announcement at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Que., on Tuesday, July 6, 2021. Simon, an Inuk leader and former Canadian diplomat, has been named as Canada's next governor general — the first Indigenous person to serve in the role. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

    ‘STEP FORWARD’: Inuk leader Mary Simon named Canada’s first Indigenous governor general

  2. Mary Simon attends a news conference where she is announced as the next Governor General of Canada in Gatineau, Quebec, Canada July 6, 2021.

    GUNTER: The new G-G pick and the bigger picture for the Liberals

  3. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visits a construction site in Ottawa to highlight affordable housing policies on June 30, 2021.

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Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole offered congratulations, calling this appointment important for the whole country, but “particularly Indigenous Peoples.

“The role of Governor-General is important in unifying our country and bringing Canadians together. I wish her well in this role,” O’Toole said.

Perry Bellegarde, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, offered congratulations via Twitter.

“Mary is a diplomat, advocate, and a strong Inuk Woman. I look forward to working with her as the Crown’s representative in Canada!” Bellegarde said.

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