Simon is the first Aboriginal person to be Queen Elizabeth II’s official representative in Canada and the Commander-in-Chief of the Canadian Armed Forces. This is a largely ceremonial role, although the Queen must approve the appointment after seeking recommendations from the Canadian government.
“I am inspired by the historic nature of this moment, as our country continues to face the difficult realities of our collective past,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement 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 common path of reconciliation, and build bridges between all who inhabit our country.
As first reported by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) last year, current and former government employees have accused Payette of creating a toxic workplace, of harassing and intimidating employees and to make some employees cry.
The appointment comes at a controversial time in Canada as the country grapples with its history of systemic abuse of Indigenous communities, including programs of forced assimilation.
In her remarks earlier this month, Simon noted that as an Indigenous person, she understands the “pain and suffering” being felt across the country.
“And as I said in my remarks, we must stop to fully recognize and commemorate and accept the atrocities of our collective past that we are learning more about every day,” said Simon, adding that it took time. ” courage “for Trudeau to appoint her to this post.
Simon was born in Kangiqsualujjuaq, Nunavik, and defended Inuit rights and culture, according to a Canadian government press release.
She was actively involved in the negotiations that led to the patriation in 1982 of the Canadian Constitution which formally enshrined Aboriginal and treaty rights in the supreme law of Canada.
Simon is also a former Canadian Ambassador for Circumpolar Affairs, a former Ambassador to Denmark, and a past President of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, a national Inuit organization.
As Simon assumes the role, she hopes that she can be “a bridge between the different lived realities that together make up the tapestry of Canada.”
“I can relate to everyone, no matter where they live, what they hope for or what they have to overcome,” she said.
CNN’s Nicole Chavez contributed to this report.