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The first Indigenous Governor General of Canada is installed

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Simon is the first Indian to serve as Queen Elizabeth II’s official representative in Canada and Commander-in-Chief of the Canadian Armed Forces. It is a largely ceremonial role, although the Queen must approve the appointment after seeking recommendations from the Canadian government.

“I am inspired by the historical nature of this moment, as our country continues to take on the difficult realities of our collective past,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Monday. “I know that, as Canada’s first Indigenous Governor-General, Her Excellency will be dedicated to helping us as we face these difficult truths together, walk the shared path of reconciliation, and build bridges between all those who call our country to house.

Simon will serve as the country’s 30th governor general, replacing him former Canadian astronaut Julie Payette who resigned earlier this year after current and former employees accused her of creating a “toxic” work environment.

As first reported by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) last year, current and former government employees accused Payette of creating a toxic job, harassing and intimidating employees, and reducing some employees to tears.

The appointment comes at a controversial time in Canada, as the country faces its history of systemic abuse of Indigenous communities, including forced assimilation programs.

Hundreds of human remains they have recently been found in unmarked graves on the grounds of several former residential schools, prompting outrage and widespread criticism. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada reported in 2015 that tens of thousands of Indigenous children were neglected and abused in the boarding schools they were forced to attend.

During his statements earlier this month, Simon noted that as an Indian, he understands the “pain and suffering” they feel across the country.

“And, as I said in my remarks, we must stop to fully recognize and memorize and accept the atrocities of our collective past that we are learning more about each day,” Simon said, adding that it was necessary. ” courage “by Trudeau will appoint her to the post.

Simon was born in Kangiqsualujjuaq, Nunavik, and has championed Inuit rights and culture, according to a Canadian government statement.

He was actively involved in negotiations that led to the repatriation of the 1982 Canadian Constitution which formally enshrined the rights of Aboriginal people and treaties to the supreme law of Canada.

Simon is also a former Canadian Ambassador for Circumpolar Affairs, a former ambassador to Denmark and former president of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, a national Inuit organization.

“Ms. Simon has dedicated her life to advancing social, economic and human rights issues for Canadian Indigenous and Inuit peoples, and I trust she will serve Canadians and promote our shared values ​​with dedication and integrity.” Trudeau said in a statement.

As Simon takes on the role, he hopes it can be “a bridge between the different lived realities that together form the tapestry of Canada.”

“I can relate to all the people no matter where they live, what they expect or what they need to overcome,” he said.

CNN’s Nicole Chávez contributed to this report.

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