In the news, online and in our communities, there are daily reminders of the deep pain and trauma inflicted on generations of Indigenous Peoples of Canada. At the same time, we acknowledge some positive steps towards reconciliation that instill hope for a collaborative and just future for Indigenous Peoples from coast to coast to coast. The appointment of Mary Simon, the first Indigenous person to hold the position of Governor General offers hope.
Ms. Simon’s appointment brings a glimmer of light to the Sixties Scoop Survivors’ healing journey. The Board acknowledges that the government and colonial institutions often play a negative and triggering role in the lives of Survivors which is why we look forward to the positive influence and Indigenous aspects Ms. Simon will bring in her new appointment.
Mary Simon comes from Kuujjuaq, Nunavik and was born in Kangiqsualujjuaq, Nunavik (Arctic Quebec).
MS. Simon has played a major role inleading many senior positions in the advancing of social, economic and human rights issues for the Inuit of Canada through the regional level.
She is the former past president of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (2006-2012) She was the Chair of the National Committee on Inuit Education (2012-2014). She was President of Makivik Corporation and Inuit Circumpolar Council and the Canadian Ambassador for Circumpolar Affairs She also founded the Arctic Children and Youth Foundation and led the negotiations in the creation of the eight Nation Arctic Council in the mid 1990’s.
She received the gold Order of Greenland, the National Order of Quebec and is an Officer of the Order of Canada. Ms. Simon has received eleven honorary Doctor of Laws from Canadian Universities and served as a chancellor at Trent University. Ms. Simon is also an Honorary witness for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.
As Governor General, Mary Simon will represent the Queen as head of state of Canada. Her duties will include acting as top commander of the Canadian Armed Forces, granting royal assent to bills so they can become law and swearing in cabinet members.
We acknowledge that for some, seeing an Indigenous person take a seat at a colonial table with an ongoing history of enacting systematic oppression against Indigenous Peoples might feel like a tokenizing gesture, confusing, or even counter productive, particularly for Survivors. However, we at the Board feel hopeful that Mary Simon’s appointment is an encouraging step in the direction of reconciliation.
In fact, in her first speech, Mary Simon said “as Governor General, I will strive to hold together the tension of the past, with the promise of the future, in a wise and thoughtful way.”
The Board celebrates the positive impact Mary Simon’s appointment has for Canadians of all backgrounds, but especially Indigenous girls, who now see an Indigenous woman in one of the most influential positions in our country. It is good to see an Inuk woman with a strong Indigenous spirit hold such a respected role. We celebrate this important moment in Canadian and Indigenous history for Mary Simon, for reconciliation, for Survivors and all diverse groups on Turtle Island.
The Board of Directors congratulates Mary Simon on her appointment as Governor General of Canada. We hope her appointment instills optimism in our fellow Survivors as we look forward to watching Simon’s long history of advocacy continue to unfold.