In the news, online and inour communities, there are daily reminders of the deep pain and traumainflicted on generations of Indigenous Peoples of Canada. At the same time, weacknowledge some positive steps towards reconciliation that instill hope for a collaborativeand just future for Indigenous Peoples from coast to coast to coast. Theappointment of Mary Simon, the first Indigenous person to hold the position ofGovernor General offers hope.
Ms. Simon’s appointmentbrings a glimmer of light to the Sixties Scoop Survivors’ healing journey. TheBoard acknowledges that the government and colonial institutions often play anegative and triggering role in the lives of Survivors which is why we lookforward to the positive influence and Indigenous aspects Ms. Simon willbring in her new appointment.
Mary Simon comes fromKuujjuaq, 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 humanrights issues for the Inuit of Canada through the regional level.
She is the former pastpresident of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (2006-2012) She was the Chair of theNational Committee on Inuit Education (2012-2014). She was President of MakivikCorporation and Inuit Circumpolar Council and the Canadian Ambassador forCircumpolar Affairs She also founded the Arctic Children and Youth Foundationand led the negotiations in the creation of the eight Nation Arctic Council inthe mid 1990’s.
She received the gold Orderof Greenland, the National Order of Quebec and is an Officer of the Order ofCanada. Ms. Simon has received eleven honorary Doctor of Laws from CanadianUniversities and served as a chancellor at Trent University. Ms. Simon is alsoan Honorary witness for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.
As Governor General, MarySimon will represent the Queen as head of state of Canada. Her duties willinclude acting as top commander of the Canadian Armed Forces, granting royalassent to bills so they can become law and swearing in cabinet members.
We acknowledge that forsome, seeing an Indigenous person take a seat at a colonial table with anongoing history of enacting systematic oppression against Indigenous Peoplesmight feel like a tokenizing gesture, confusing, or even counterproductive,particularly for Survivors. However, we at the Board feel hopeful that MarySimon’s appointment is an encouraging step in the direction of reconciliation.
In fact, in her firstspeech, Mary Simon said “as Governor General, I will strive to hold togetherthe tension of the past, with the promise of the future, in a wise andthoughtful way.”
The Board celebrates thepositive impact Mary Simon’s appointment has for Canadians of all backgrounds,but especially Indigenous girls, who now see an Indigenous woman in one of themost influential positions in our country. It is good tosee an Inuk woman with a strong Indigenous spirit hold such a respected role.We celebrate this important moment in Canadian and Indigenous history for MarySimon, for reconciliation, for Survivors and all diverse groups on TurtleIsland.
The Board of Directorscongratulates Mary Simon on her appointment as Governor General of Canada. Wehope her appointment instills optimism in our fellow Survivors as we lookforward to watching Simon’s long history of advocacy continue to unfold.