Mary Simon, 1st Indigenous woman Governor General of Canada


Mary Simon, 1st Indigenous woman Governor General of Canada (photo from October 24, 2009)

INTERNATIONAL – The Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau chose to appoint this Tuesday, July 6 as governor general the Inuit Mary Simon, who thus becomes the new representative of Queen Elizabeth II in Canada, a decision of strong political and symbolic significance, caught in the midst of the residential schools scandal.

Mary Simon is the first indigenous woman in this post, welcomed the head of the Canadian government during a press briefing. “Today, after 154 years, our country is taking an important step. I don’t see a better person at the moment, ”said Justin Trudeau, whose country is bereaved by the discovery of more than a thousand anonymous graves near former residential schools for native people.

Born in 1947, this Inuit native of Nunavik (northern Quebec) was notably a “defender of the rights and culture” of this people, according to Trudeau. The first Canadian Ambassador for Circumpolar Affairs, she was also Canada’s Ambassador to Denmark.

“A historic and inspiring moment”

The one who will be the 30th to occupy this post of representative of the Queen of England, the latter officially remaining the Head of State of Canada, hailed a “historic opportunity” by thanking the head of the Canadian government. “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 said.

“The role of Governor General in our parliamentary system is symbolic but it is also an extremely important role” in order to “bring Canadians together,” echoed Trudeau, who had made reconciliation with Indigenous peoples one of the of its priorities.

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. Simon’s choice was praised even in the opposition, its leader Erin O’Toole hailing on Twitter “an important day both for our country as a whole and for indigenous peoples in particular”.

Canada in mourning

The announcement of Simon’s appointment comes amid the explosion in Canada of the scandal of the former Indian residential schools, the establishments where tens of thousands of Native American, Métis and Inuit children were forcibly recruited from the late 19th century to the late 19th century. 1990, separated from their families and their culture.

Many of them have been subjected to ill-treatment or sexual abuse, and more than 4,000 have died there, according to a commission of inquiry which had found a veritable “cultural genocide” on the part of Canada.

In recent weeks, the discoveries of graves or the remains of children near several of these boarding schools have come to shock the country, each time more deeply. Several hundred anonymous graves were thus discovered in British Columbia at the end of May, then 751 others at the end of June in Saskatchewan (west).

As an acknowledgment of the importance of the moment, Justin Trudeau is also due to meet on Tuesday afternoon with Cadmus Delorme, the chief of the Cowessess Nation, behind the discovery of the graves in Saskatchewan.

Expectations of a formal apology

These macabre discoveries fueled anger, as well as a need for the Pope and the Church to issue a formal apology for the abuse and violence suffered by students at these boarding schools run by the Catholic Church on behalf of the Canadian government. .

An avatar of this indignation, dozens of Catholic churches have been set on fire in recent weeks in Canada. And a sign that the religious institution is not the only one held responsible, statues of Queens Victoria and Elizabeth II were debunked on July 1, Canada’s National Day.

The commemoration, which marks the anniversary of Canadian Confederation and was held this year despite calls to cancel the celebrations, has been the subject of numerous protests across the country to “denounce the genocide”.

Condemning “acts of vandalism”, Justin Trudeau nevertheless said he understood “the anger against the federal government, against institutions like the Catholic Church”.

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Source: Le Huffington Post by

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