Governor General Mary Simon was formally installed on Monday morning at the Senate of Canada Building in Ottawa that incorporated traditional Inuktitut in the two-hour long ceremony. She begins her role as Canada’s 30th Governor General since Confederation where she expressed her commitment to maintain the standard and ethics in all aspects of her duties to the country and as representative of The Crown under Elizabeth II.
The ceremony began with the procession, with the sound of the traditional Inuit drum qilaut as background, of the dignitaries led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Renowned Inuit Elder David Serkoak, who is one of the leaders in trying to preserve and teach Inuit culture and language to youth, played the qilaut.
Simon spoke in English, her native language Inuktitut, and French. Born in Arctic Quebec, now known as Nunavik, Simon said the meaning of her Inuit name in English is Bossy Little Old Lady, which drew laughs from the selected crowd who witnessed the occasion.
She said that since her appointment Canadians reached out to her and vowed their support.
“Since the announcement of my appointment, I have been deeply touched by the responses of Canadians who have reached out to me. I have heard from Canadians who described a renewed sense of possibility for our country and hope that I can bring people together.”
“I have heard from Canadians who have challenged me to bring a new and renewed purpose to the office of the Governor General, to help Canadians deal with the issues we are facing … And I have heard from Canadians who see Rideau Hall as the People’s Hall, reflecting the values, aspirations, and diversity of our great Canadian family. I am truly grateful for these words of support and guidance.”
She said that her decades long career in public service gave her the chance to travel and meet the people of all provinces and territories.
“There has always been another guiding force in my life: the importance of promoting healing and wellness through all forms of education. From creating public policy to legislative reform to improving school curriculum through advocating for human rights.”
“I have had the pleasure in my career of traveling extensively to all provinces and territories. What I remember most is not the meetings or conferences, but the mix of culture and heritage that make Canada a beacon to the world. I will never forget the selfless work of Canadians in every corner of this country. Everyday inside small community halls, school gyms, Royal Canadian legions, places of worship, and in thousands of community service organizations, there are ordinary Canadians doing extraordinary things. As Governor General I will never lose sight of this, that our selflessness is one of our greatest strengths.”
Simon also noted that with Canada being an Arctic nation, it has the duty to protect the land.
“Our Arctic is one of the most unique places on the planet. From spring to winter, to some of the largest wildlife migrations anywhere on earth. Our north is also a well lived in homeland for our Inuit, First Nations, and Metis Peoples. The Arctic matters a lot to Canada and to the world.”
“Canada has championed the creation of the Arctic Council and the Central Arctic Ocean Fishing Agreement. We have settled modern treaties with the Inuit. We have passed the Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Act to assure sovereignty over the northwest passage and develop a circumpolar dimension to the foreign policy, which recognizes that human security must include environmental security.”
Simon said that she has always used Canada as a metaphor for family behind a large and diverse community.
“As members of our large and diverse Canadian family, we had to replace the hurt with hope, and find the grace and humility to stand together to move towards a more just and equitable future… We are reminded daily that even though diversity is a core Canadian value, our country must do more to respect all languages, cultures, ethnicities, religions, and way of living. As Governor General, I will embody our nation’s commitment to diversity and acceptance.
Simon, the 13th Governor General to be appointed by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, is a former two-term President of Inuit Circumpolar Conference (Inuit Circumpolar Council) and former President of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami. She has dedicated her public service career in advancing the social, economic, and human rights issues of Inuit and Indigenous Peoples of the country.