“I can confidently say that my appointment is a historic and inspiring moment for Canada and an important step on the long path to reconciliation,” Mary Simon told a news conference after being appointed Governor-General of Canada. The Inuit leader is proud to be the first Aboriginal woman to hold this position in the 154-year history of the North American nation.
Simon will represent the country’s head of state, Queen Elizabeth II, in Canada. On the recommendation of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the king confirmed his appointment, which the country faces in its colonial past. The recent discovery of more than 1,000 anonymous graves in boarding schools to unite indigenous peoples has exposed the criminal treatment that indigenous communities have enjoyed for decades, in centers run on behalf of the state by the Catholic Church.
Mary Simon argues that now is the time to identify, remember and accept the atrocities of the Canadian past
“As an aboriginal person, I understand that there is pain and suffering throughout our country,” Simon said of a scandal that has rocked the country in recent days. “We must begin to fully recognize, remember and accept the atrocities of our past.”
About 150,000 tribal youth were forcibly separated from their families and housed in these centers, which operated until the 1990s. In a policy described by the Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission as “cultural genocide” in 2015, they experienced physical, sexual and psychological abuse there, including malnutrition tests. Simon is coming to power to replace Julie Payet, who stepped down in January amid allegations of workplace harassment and bullying. A controversy erupted after a statement was issued alleging that he had led his team in a “toxic” and “toxic” way.
The activities of the new Governor General will be mainly symbolic and ceremonial. He will be responsible for accepting diplomatic credentials, swearing in ministers, giving state approval to bills, and reading speeches from the throne. If the prime minister wants to dissolve parliament to hold new elections, he must seek Simon’s approval.
According to various Canadian media speculations, this is a scenario that could happen this year. Recent elections have put Trudeau’s Liberal Party in the best position to regain the parliamentary majority it lost in the 2019 election. When asked about the issue, Simon and Trudeau said they had not yet talked about the possibility of electoral progress.
Simon’s life is marked by defending the rights of the tribal people. The daughter of an Inuit mother, she lived part of her youth in the traditional way of life of these peoples from the Arctic regions of North America. He spent the day hunting, fishing and gathering, and at night he slept in an open-air camp. It, for her part, allows her to “be a bridge between the different realities that make up Canada’s ribbon.” In the 1970s, he became a radio presenter and later entered the domestic process.
He led a traditional Inuit career until he became a journalist and activist in the 1970s.
He rose to leadership positions in various Inuit groups, eventually ending up as the leader of the Inuit Tabrid Connaught, a national organization that wants to represent more than 65,000 Inuit lives in the country. While in this position, he participated in the negotiations for the first agreement on aboriginal land claims in Canada.
In 1994, when his ten-year diplomatic career began, his activity took a turn. He was the first Canadian ambassador for circus affairs, leading talks to form an eight-nation coalition Arctic Council in the region, where he fought for the participation of indigenous communities in decision-making. Meanwhile, in 1999 he became Canada’s ambassador to Denmark for three years.
“Simon’s life has always been one of breaking down barriers,” Trudeau said Tuesday. His appointment comes to highlight harmony with the country’s history and to recognize the long-term suffering of the people who lived on their lands before the arrival of the settlers. Indigenous peoples now make up 4% of Canada’s population, a minority that will be represented by the Governor – General for the first time in history. “I can’t think of a better person to face this moment,” the Prime Minister said.
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