OTTAWA – The Native Women’s Association of Canada would like to congratulate Mary Simon on her appointment as Governor General of Canada, the first Inuit person to become head of state in a country that has been home to Indigenous people for tens of thousands of years.
The federal government has made an excellent choice in selecting Ms. Simon as Viceregal representative of the Monarch. She has been a human-rights activist and outspoken champion of her people. She was an excellent leader of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and served Canada well as Ambassador of Circumpolar Affairs and to Denmark.
In Ms. Simon, the daughter of a fur trader, Canada will have a Governor General who is intensely proud of her Inuk culture and well qualified to represent all Canadians, from coast to coast to coast. As Indigenous women, we are pleased with today’s announcement and proud that an Inuit woman is finally serving in this prestigious position.
We must point out, however, that Ms. Simon is being asked to serve the senior role in what is still a colonial system of governance.
To achieve true reconciliation, the federal government must re-examine its appointments of Ministers to lead departments that have a profound effect on Indigenous lives – the departments of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Indigenous Services.
It is time that those two Ministries are led by Indigenous people. It is time for the government to get out of the way and to allow Indigenous people to manage their own affairs.
We, as Indigenous women, are delighted with the appointment of Ms. Simon as Governor general. Now it is time to carry that progress forward.