Indigenous leaders welcome appointment of Canada's newest Governor General
SAINT JOHN, N.B. -- The appointment of Mary Simon as Canada's Governor General is a moment for the history books – as the advocate, ambassador and Inuk leader becomes the country's first Indigenous person in that position.
In the Maritimes, Indigenous leaders are welcoming word of the decision, as a monumental moment and major step on the path of reconciliation, as Simon herself has noted.
"To know that it's an Indigenous woman who is going to be representing all Canadians, not just Indigenous, but all Canadians," says Lorraine Whitman of the Native Women's Association of Canada.
"She certainly has the credentials to be able to do it, and so I'm certainly excited in that it is a historical moment."
Graydon Nicholas of the Tobique First Nation is someone who knows first-hand about breaking barriers – he was New Brunswick's first Indigenous judge and lieutenant-governor.
Today, he says he's proud of Simon and commends the choice to name her as the country's 30th governor general.
"The fact that it's an Indigenous woman is fruitful because of what's happening in this country with respect to missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls – and the report that was completed a number of years ago," says Nicholas.
"Secondly, also, because of the recommendations and the calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation commission in 2015. I think all these are very important factors with respect to greater awareness in our country of Indigenous presence."
Chief of the New Brunswick Aboriginal Peoples Council, Barry Labillois, says Simon's appointment has left him ecstatic.
"With Mary in this position, it's going to help our people now, because we have someone in power," says Labillois.
"I think it's just a major step going forward."