Today is a very special day, one that will go down in history being that Mary Simon has become the first Indigenous Governor-General Canada has ever had. Indigenous people make up about 5% of the population of Canada, therefore it is crucial that there is Indigenous representation within our government, and it holds the position of governor general in very high regard. Mary Simon has accomplished much more than just attaining this role in her lifetime, and as an advocate for Inuit and Northern Canada, today Mary Simon should be celebrated.
Let’s talk about Mary Simon
Mary Simon has been advocating for Inuit rights for years, and with the position of governor general will do great things for the Inuit community. In 1994, Simon was named the first ambassador for Circumpolar Affairs in Canada, and even became the very first Inuk ambassador to Denmark. Her advocacies for Canada’s North as well as the Inuit community have been substantial. Simon has fought against things like Europe’s seal bans, she has fought for the land and environment in the North and has protected the Northern provinces from the government and military plans which would have destroyed it.
Mary Simon was born in Kangiqsualujjuaq in the Northern region of Quebec called Kivalliq. Simon had also attended a day school until she was in grade 6. Her experiences growing up with an Inuk mother have helped to shape her views on the world and have powered her drive for change in the North and for the Inuit. Simon gave credit to both her mother Nancy May, and grandmother, Jenny May, for her boundless energy for self-improvement, learning and helping her community, as well as teaching her to always be proud of the person she was. She learned from her father about non-Native people from someone who had a “profound love for the North and its people.”
Simon has been greatly involved in a multitude of work regarding Indigenous rights and issues within Canada. In 2008 she was also named one of the honorary witnesses to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s investigation into the residential schools in Canada. The former diplomat has been outspoken about the Canadian government’s failures and poor job of creating a better country for Indigenous people. She has criticized the government for years, and I am personally so excited to see the next steps she will take with her role as governor general.
Simon is celebrated by peers
Many of Mary Simon’s peers have commemorated her on her new role as governor general, explaining she is “highly, highly qualified,” and that there is no other person who is as perfect for this role than she is. Something that sets her apart from previous governor generals and other members of cabinet in Canada, is that she is not a celebrity. She is also not interested in appeasing the 1%, and other celebrities in Canada.
Simon has said that her appointment is a “historic and inspirational moment for Canada,” one that is important on the long path towards reconciliation.
A few more of Mary’s accomplishments include her being named a member of the Order of Canada in 1991. This is one of Canada’s highest and most prestigious honours, so it is no surprise she was appointed as governor general considering her incredible work the past few decades. She has also been the president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami which is a national Inuit organization which works to protect the rights of Inuit in Canada. The ITK also works towards advancing the health and wellness of Inuit, the quality of education, working with the UN regarding the rights of Indigenous people, and so much more.
There are still many roles within the Canadian government that would be better filled with Indigenous representation, so this step is the beginning of a new change within the Canadian government.
Mary Simon gave her thanks to Canada as well as Queen Elizabeth, who appoints the governor general. Mary Simon will undoubtedly do ground-breaking work as the first Indigenous governor general of Canada. We wish her only the best.