NewsWorldCanada: Mary Simon, first Indigenous named Governor General

Canada: Mary Simon, first Indigenous named Governor General

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Justin Trudeau, the Canadian Prime Minister, announced on Tuesday that he had appointed Mary Simon as the new official representative of Queen Elizabeth II in Canada. The first Indigenous woman to hold the post, she succeeds Julie Payette, who resigned in January after accusations of harassment.

A historic appointment. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Tuesday, July 6, that he had appointed Mary Simon as the new official representative of Queen Elizabeth II in Canada, the first indigenous woman in this post, during a press briefing.

“We are honored to have Ms. Simon as the first Indigenous Governor General,” he said. “Today, after 154 years, our country is taking an important step. I don’t see a better person at the moment,” added Justin Trudeau, as the country mourns the discovery of more than a thousand graves anonymous near former residential schools for native people.

“Historic opportunity”

Born in 1947, this Inuit native of Nunavik (northern Quebec) was notably a “defender of the rights and culture” of this tribe, according to Justin Trudeau. She was also a radio host for the English channel CBC.

Mary Simon, now the 30th Governor General in this post, also noted a “historic opportunity” by thanking the head of the Canadian government, who has made reconciliation with Indigenous peoples one of her priorities.

“I can say with confidence that my appointment is a historic and inspiring moment for Canada, and an important step on the long road to reconciliation,” she added.

“The role of governor general in our parliamentary system is symbolic but it is also an extremely important role”, underlined Justin Trudeau, by evoking in particular a role allowing “to bring together Canadians”.

The announcement comes after the discovery of 751 graves in Saskatchewan (west) and several hundred anonymous graves in British Columbia near former residential schools since the end of May. These discoveries caused a stir in the country.

Some 150,000 Amerindian, Métis and Inuit children, forcibly recruited until the 1990s in 139 residential schools across the country, have been cut off from their families, their language and their culture.

Mary Simon succeeds Julie Payette, who resigned in January after accusations of harassment.

The Governor General is usually appointed for five years, but the length of his term is at the discretion of the Queen of England.

With AFP

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