Northern Ontario reacts to Canada’s first Indigenous governor general
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has chosen the first Indigenous person to take on the important role of Canada’s governor general.
First Nations leaders in North Bay are cautiously celebrating the news saying it’s about time a powerful role in government is given to someone of Indigenous descent.
Kathy Fortin, the executive director of the North Bay Indigenous Friendship Centre, is optimistic Indigenous voices will be heard at the highest level.
Mary Simon was hand-picked by Trudeau Tuesday for the position.
"It's something for Indigenous people to look up to," Fortin said. “She'll definitely have an understanding of the struggles of people that live in the north."
An Inuk leader, Simon will be Canada’s 30th governor general. From northern Quebec, she has long been an advocate for Inuit rights and culture.
"She is a strong voice and she has strong principles which will help her and help us establish a more significant role as Indigenous people in this country,” said Nipissing First Nation Chief Scott McLeod.
Her appointment comes as Canada is coming to grip with the staggering reality that unmarked graves at former residential school locations are being found across the country.
"I don’t want to set the bar too high because we saw what happened to Jody Wilson-Raybould when she stuck to her principles,” Mcleod said.
Simon was the first Inuk to be a Canadian ambassador, representing the country in Denmark.
Timmins – James Bay MP Charlie Angus said MPs of all political stripes are behind her and look forward to working with her to get things done for all Canadians.
"This is a good sign for Canada," Angus said. "The government is still dragging its feet on a number of issues, but I’m hoping she can bring a moral weight and an energy to these issues."
In her remarks Tuesday, Simon said she is "honoured, humbled, and ready" for the job.