Canada's first Inuk governor general, Mary Simon, sparks hope for new relationship

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OTTAWA — First Nations, Inuit and Métis leaders are applauding the appointment of Mary Simon as Canada's first Indigenous governor general, saying they are excited at the chance to build stronger bridges between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Canada.

Pita Aatami, president of the Makivik Corp., which Simon led in the 1970s, says a collective thrill was felt among many Inuit and Indigenous people across Canada when the first words Simon uttered as governor general designate was in her native language of Inuktitut.

Aatami says having an Indigenous person as the Crown’s representative in Canada comes at an important time in the country's history when it comes to working toward reconciliation.

Natan Obed, president of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, says he hopes Simon will be able to empathize with those feeling fresh loss and pain after a difficult year, including the pandemic, wildfires in British Columbia and the discovery of unmarked burial sites at residential schools.

Outgoing Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde says Simon will represent both Inuit in the North and all Canadians in her new role and says he believes her experience in many leadership and diplomatic roles makes her an ideal choice for the job.

Sen. Yvonne Boyer, a Métis lawyer and former nurse, says she was "thrilled" to learn of Simon's appointment, not only because she is Inuk, but because of her many years of experience as a leader and representative of Canada on the world stage.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 6, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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