Canada

First Inuk Governor General will help bring issues into focus at crucial time, Indigenous leaders say

FREDERICTON —
Maritime Indigenous leaders hope as the first Inuk Governor General, Mary Simon will bring much needed focus to the country’s Indigenous peoples at this crucial time.

“It’s the education aspect, letting Canadians know, letting the school systems know how this country started, the Indigenous people and the mistreatment,” said Barry LaBillois, Chief of the New Brunswick Aboriginal Peoples Council.

It was the first ceremony swearing in ceremony featuring the Inuktitut language, an empowering recognition for Indigenous peoples across the country.

“I’m a language warrior myself, so definitely to hear her speaking her language and to hear her speaking about her way of life about living on the land and growing up that way, she’s definitely going to bring a different perspective to many of the current realities of people at that level,” said Lisa Dutcher, of the Wolastoq Grand Council.

Dutcher is hoping perspective on those realities can bring about change.

“Will she be able to make some systemic changes, will she be able to address some of the inequities, some of the injustices that are facing Indigenous people in this country,” she said.

For some Maritime Indigenous leaders it’s important having representation in that level of government.

“I think this is a wonderful thing, I think it’s a step closer in the right direction to truth and reconciliation and I feel like she might help bridge that gap,” said Brandy Stanovich, president of The Indigenous Women of The Wabanaki Territories.

Seeing Simon, a former ambassador and advocate for Indigenous rights, in the role gives hope that change is coming in Canada.

“To see her in that role I feel like the shift is going to happen that our people are no longer going to be overlooked we’re starting to get seats in those positions that matter to make a difference,” Stanovich said.

LaBillois says he hopes that we will begin seeing more Indigenous leaders in key roles in the Maritimes and throughout Canada.

“If you look here in New Brunswick we had Graydon Nicholas as the lieutenant-governor, he did it for a number of years and it really helped profile aboriginal people here in New Brunswick so I’m hoping this will have a snowball effect and kind of go across the country as well,” he said.


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