Inuk Leader Mary Simon Appointed as Canada’s First Indigenous Governor General

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has appointed Inuk leader Mary Simon as Canada’s first Indigenous governor general.

“Today, after 154 years, our country takes a historic step. I cannot think of a better person to meet the moment,” Trudeau said at a news conference on July 6.

Originally from Kangiqsualujjuaq, in the Nunavik region of Quebec, Simon will serve as Canada’s 30th governor general, becoming the first Indigenous official representative of Queen Elizabeth II in Canada and commander-in-chief of the Canadian Armed Forces.

Describing her appointment as an “inspirational moment for Canada and an important step forward on the long path towards reconciliation,” Simon’s appointment comes at a controversial time as Canada’s relationship with First Nations has worsened, following the discovery of over a thousand unmarked Indigenous graves on the grounds of multiple former residential schools across the country since last May.

“We need to stop to fully recognize and memorialize and come to terms with the atrocities of our collective past that we are learning more about each day,” Simon said.

Simon will replace former Canadian astronaut Julie Payette who resigned from the position last January after her current and former employees accused her of bullying and creating a “toxic” workplace environment.

Simon previously served as Canada’s first Inuk ambassador for Circumpolar Affairs, as well as the first Inuk ambassador to Denmark. She also served as the former president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, a national Inuit organization.

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