Mary Simon officially became Governor General of Canada on Monday (the official representative of the Queen of England, who is the head of the Canadian State). Simon is the first person belonging to an indigenous group to reach this position created 154 years ago. “I promise to work for all Canadians,” he said in his speech at the ceremony, stressing that Canada must advance the path of unity. Justin Trudeau, Canadian Prime Minister, said: “At this time of unprecedented change, rebuilding the pandemic, fighting the climate crisis, moving forward on the path of reconciliation, we need your vision for a stronger country. for all”.
Simon was born in 1947 in Kangiqsualujjuaq, an Inuit town located in the Nunavik region (province of Quebec). She worked on public radio broadcasting for Arctic communities and was president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, the organization that represents Inuit nationally. She was also Canada’s ambassador to Denmark and the country’s representative on the Arctic Council. Justin Trudeau had announced the nomination of Mary Simon as Governor General on July 6. Trudeau selected her from a list of candidates prepared by a committee after her predecessor, Julie Payette, resigned from the post on January 21. The ex-astronaut had received numerous accusations of workplace harassment. Richard Wagner, Chief Justice, assumed his duties on an interim basis.
The nomination and swearing in of Mary Simon as Governor General of Canada have taken place in a very sensitive environment for the country, as a result of the discovery in the last two months of more than 1,300 unmarked graves in four former boarding schools for indigenous children. Simon said these discoveries “horrified her” and added: “Many people think that reconciliation will happen through projects and services. All Canadians have the right to access services. Personally, I believe that reconciliation is a way of life and requires daily work. Reconciliation is recognizing each other ”.
Regarding the recent forest fires, droughts and extreme temperatures in Canada, he noted: “The double global crisis due to the destruction of nature and climate change is without a doubt the challenge of our time.” Mary Simon read her speech in Inuktitut and English, using French phrases at times. Knowledge of the two official languages by the governors general of Canada has been a tradition, but not a requirement. Raymond Théberge, commissioner for official languages, said he had received hundreds of complaints from members of the country’s Francophone communities as a result of Simon’s nomination. Canada’s new Governor General has promised to take French lessons. However, he underlined the value of Inuktitut – his first language – and said that English was a fundamental vehicle to get in touch with other realities. Simon has also expressed that he did not have the opportunity to learn French at a young age because it was not taught in the federal school that he went to.
Subscribe here to newsletter from EL PAÍS América and receive all the informative keys of the current situation of the region