Known for her leadership in advocating for the socio-economic and human rights of Canadian Inuit and Indigenous peoples, former Trent University chancellor Dr. Mary May Simon has been named Canada’s first Indigenous governor general.
“Trent University is delighted to congratulate our former chancellor, Mary May Simon, on her appointment as Canada’s governor general,” said Dr. Leo Groarke, president and vice-chancellor. “At Trent, and in her many political, environmental and governmental roles, she has been a wonderful advocate for the North, for Inuit concerns, and for all of Canada. We wish her well as she takes on her new role. As Canadians, we are fortunate to have her as our new commander-in-chief.”
Dr. Simon will serve as Canada’s 30th governor general, and will carry out constitutional duties, serve as commander-in-chief of the Canadian Armed Forces, represent Canada at home and abroad, and encourage excellence while bringing Canadians together.
“The choice of Mary Simon as the next governor general of Canada is inspired and groundbreaking. She will bring grace and dignity to the position as she represents Canada and Indigenous peoples to the world,” said Dr. David Newhouse, director of the Chanie Wenjack School for Indigenous Studies at Trent. “Her appointment comes at a difficult time in Canada’s reconciliation project. Her experience in bringing people together will serve these efforts well. She is an extraordinary leader whose appointment is right for the times. We offer her our most heartfelt congratulations.”
Advocate for Indigenous rights
Dr. Simon served as Trent’s seventh chancellor from 1995 to 1999, and again in 2002. In 2005, she was presented with an honorary degree, the University’s highest honour. Her distinguished career is built on four decades of senior leadership positions, focused on the rights and culture of Inuit and all Indigenous peoples. As a young woman, Dr. Simon held a series of executive positions with the Northern Quebec Inuit Association and the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, which led to the first land claims agreement in Canada. Together with other Indigenous leaders, Dr. Simon participated in efforts that resulted in the historic recognition of aboriginal and treaty rights in Canada's Constitution. Later, as president of Makivik Corporation, she was directly involved with the implementation of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement, and with the protection and promotion of Inuit rights.
She also served two terms as president of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference, now known as the Inuit Circumpolar Council and as the first Canadian ambassador for Circumpolar Affairs, raising awareness of the challenges facing Northern residents and promoting environmental protection initiatives among the circumpolar nations.
“Mary Simon is a wonderful choice for Governor General. The School for the Study of Canada sends warmest congratulations to this extraordinary leader,” added Dr. Heather Nicol, director of Trent’s School for the Study of Canada. “She has consistently worked to make Canada a better place for all of us.”