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Canada's First Indigenous Governor General

Updated: Jul 26, 2021

Inuk leader Mary Simon has been named Canada's first Indigenous Governor General, saying this is an "historic and inspirational moment for Canada, and a step forward on the long path towards reconciliation".

Simon also said this was an important step in "building a more inclusive and just Canadian society".

The appointment follows the unearthing of hundreds of unmarked graves of children at the sites of former residential schools across the country.

"Indeed, my appointment comes at an especially reflective and dynamic time in our shared history," she said.

Mary Simon in 2006. Photo: By Stageleft

Simon made her opening remarks in Inuktitut.

Previously, Simon was the first Inuk to represent Canada as the ambassador to Denmark.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that only by building bridges will Canada be able to move forward.

"It is only by reaching out to those around us, it is only by building bridges between people in the north and south, just like in the east and west that we can truly move forward," said the Prime Minister.

"Today after 154 years our country takes a historic step. I cannot think of a better person to meet the moment," he said.

A Governor General acts as the Queen's representative in the country in which they reside.

In Canada, the Governor General has the power to give a throne speech and suspend parliament, give royal assent to legislation, swear in the prime minister, and is commander-in-chief of the Canadian Armed Forces.

Australia has never had an Aboriginal Governor General. In 1976 Yorta Yorta man Sir Doug Nicholls was named the 28th Governor of South Australia.

Sir Doug Nicholls speaking during his swearing-in ceremony as Governor of South Australia in 1976, with Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser (seated) looking on.

The current Governor of Western Australia the Honourable Kim Beazley AC is an Ambassador for Danjoo Koorliny.


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