OTTAWA (ON), July 19, 2022 /CNW/ – Dear Canadians, it has now been a year since I became from Canada 30e Governor General, the first Aboriginal person to hold this office. No doubt, my predecessors would share the observation that the first year as Governor General is devoted to better understanding the nature of the role, as well as to seeing its possibilities. I am writing to you today about my understanding of these possibilities.

In the weeks since my arrival at Rideau Hall, my husband, Whit, and I have been deeply moved by the Canadians who have reached out to express their concerns and aspirations for our country. If there was a common theme running through these messages, it was pride in Canada that an Aboriginal was now the Queen’s representative. There was also the feeling that we were at a turning point in the history of our country.

I’ve been committed to other turns in from Canada history, including that of 1982 Charter of Rights and Freedomsthe 2008 residential school apology and, in 2010, as an honorary witness to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Looking back on those times, they had a few things in common: a recognition of the results of past chapters in our history; a serious determination to bridge divides; and a call for a commitment to address the resulting challenges for nation building. These were defining moments for our country. They called on all of us – as individuals, as members of the community, as leaders in business, government or civil society – to ask and answer simple but far-reaching questions that accompany citizenship: What can be improved and How can we do it? Now, as Governor General, I ask myself the other question that constantly accompanies me: how can i help get things done?

Early in my appointment, I sought advice from people from a variety of backgrounds on how I could answer this question. They encouraged me to use my voice to amplify issues and bring them to the attention of decision makers at all levels. I can do this by asking important and honest questions, inviting needed conversations, connecting changemakers, listening, learning and building on successes big and small. My position has limits. I can’t make politics or create programs. However, I can use my role as a convener to help build alliances that can promote change.

During my installation, I said that I would do reconciliation, mental health, nature and the environment, climate change, education, youth and diversity and the inclusion of priorities during my tenure as Governor General. I know full well that there are significant and frustrating challenges in these priority areas, but nation building is hard. It requires work at all levels and the voice of all generations to find unity of purpose. All of these priorities are interconnected. In my travels, I have seen inspiring, innovative and forward-thinking approaches to these priorities, and I intend to focus my attention on highlighting and building on these successes.

In the quiet moments of this first year as Governor General, I have reflected a great deal on the journey that brought me here to Rideau Hall. My life has followed the difficult path that is the journey of reconciliation in our country.

Over the past year, my experiences have deepened my view of what reconciliation looks like. The path to reconciliation is a migration, not a destination. Reconciliation is not achieved as a project, but rather as a change in society. This migration includes conversations that are courageous, honest and often seen as essential to healing. Reconciliation is about the relationships we build and maintain: relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians, relationships between generations, and relationships with our lands and waters.

It has been truly inspiring over the past year to see the very thoughtful and deliberate work on reconciliation undertaken by Canadians. On the other side Canada, the contributions of Indigenous peoples are valued, shared and celebrated. Spaces are created to have honest conversations about the past. Indigenous peoples tell the full story of our country, the harsh realities of our past and the emergencies of the present, through books, art, architecture, music, traditional ceremonies and many other ways. It reassured me that lasting change is possible and that the hard work of nation building that awaits us towards reconciliation will be shared by all Canadians. I intend to ensure that my office supports and amplifies these efforts.

My visit to the site of the former Kamloops residential school, a place of extraordinary beauty, shrouded in this painful history, has remained with me in memory. As an Inuk woman, I am proud that we have come to a place in our country where Indigenous people are increasingly accepted to share their stories.

I understand that as the first Indigenous Governor General, I had high expectations of myself to help interpret a path forward toward reconciliation. I will do my best to honor the trust that these expectations entail.

I was very fortunate as a Canadian to be born in the Arctic, where the relationship with the land and the natural world was integral to our well-being. In my role as Governor General, I want to pay tribute to those who act as stewards and guardians of our natural world and who ensure that the diversity and health of our abundant natural resources remain central to our well-being. . The stakes are high. Our world is changing rapidly, and each of us has a role and responsibility to help care for our planet: the only home we have.

During this first year, I also understood the important role that a Governor General plays, on behalf of all Canadians, in remembrance and remembrance, in honor and in bringing people together. On this cool fall day of my first Remembrance Day as Governor General and Commander-in-Chief, the sun shone on the courage of those who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect the values ​​we hold dear. I shared with all Canadians the deep love and pride I have for our country. In addition, I learned that governors general play an important role at home and abroad by representing Canada during State visits, presenting honors and awards of excellence, congratulating Canadians on milestones and sharing moments of sadness. In those moments, I witnessed the values ​​and priorities we hold dear, and I will honor that role of trust.

What has impressed me this year in my visits to Canadians is the quality and range of leadership I see at work. I’ve often thought that we sometimes think too narrowly about leadership. It does not rely solely on elected officials, the business community and the leaders of civil society, which are nevertheless essential. Fortunately, in small community halls, school gymnasiums, Royal Canadian Legions, places of worship and thousands of community service organizations, there are ordinary Canadians doing extraordinary things. There is also a new generation of leaders whose voices I hear from coast to coast. They are facing global challenges of unprecedented magnitude, and I am inspired by their fearless determination to meet these challenges.

My word of encouragement for this new generation and for all Canadians is a word from my first language, Inuktitut. A word that speaks of resilience: ajuinnata– to never give up. It is a long and difficult road to travel towards reconciliation and as we deal with many other issues. As Canadians, we must face this situation together with determination and courage.

We thank you for your continued support.

Mary Simon

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