Friday, December 04, 2009

Good luck, Mary Simon

A little bird tells me that a worthy replacement may have been found for Michaëlle Jean, Governor-General of Canada, now in her last year of office.

According to an influential Conservative insider, Mary Simon, currently the President of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, would be an "ideal choice."

Simon was ambassador for Circumpolar Affairs at the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, 1994-2003, and also served as Canadian ambassador to Denmark, 1999-2001. She sat on the Joint Public Advisory Committee of NAFTA's Commission on Environmental Cooperation (1997-2000), and chaired the Commission from 1997-98. She was the Chancellor of Trent University from 1995 to 1999.

Simon has played many other roles in her career, including serving on the Nunavut Implementation Commission. She has been showered with honours--everything from the Order of Canada to the Gold Medal of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. And throughout her many years of public service, she has been a powerful voice for Aboriginal rights in Canada and elsewhere.

And she blogs!

An ideal choice indeed.

It was not that long ago that Inuit, when not neglected by the Canadian government to the point of being left to starve as late as the 1950s, were treated as handy political pawns. To establish Canadian sovereignty, the government uprooted communities and relocated them to the high Arctic to act as "human flagpoles." The entire shabby history of this forced removal is recounted in Tammarniit (Mistakes) by Frank Tester and Peter Kulchyski, a book that makes grim reading.

There is something heart-warming--and not a little ironic--in the possibility of an Inuk woman of the 21st century standing in such a different way for Canada, and for Arctic sovereignty. ᐊᔪᙱᒋᐊᕐᓗᑎᑦ (Ajunngigiarlutit), Mary Simon, and I hope this indeed comes to pass. You would do us all proud.

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