A Call With Canada’s Governor General

In 2021, Mary Simon became the Governor General of Canada. 

I recently had the privilege of speaking with Her Excellency Mary Simon, the new Governor General of Canada. Simon is the first member of an Indigenous community to assume the role, which comes with both ceremonial and constitutional responsibilities.    

Before becoming Governor General, Simon worked as a civil servant, diplomat, and broadcaster. Promoting diversity was always a focal point for her. As a diplomat, she had to negotiate with people who had differing views. 

“I learned to be diplomatic in my discussions with people I didn’t necessarily agree with,” Simon told me during our conversation. 

While meeting with communities around the country over the years, Simon realized that kids were being left out of essential discussions. She wants young people to get the education and guidance they need to address concerns that affect the country’s future, including climate change, mental health, and racial inequality, issues that she said are tied together.

Canada is grappling with a history of brutal mistreatment of Indigenous people. A Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which was founded in 2008, determined that “Reconciliation must support Aboriginal peoples as they heal from the destructive legacies of colonization that have wreaked such havoc in their lives.”

Simon sees that effort as a long-term process. “My view is that reconciliation is a way of life and requires work every day,” she said when she assumed office in July. “Reconciliation is getting to know one another.”


Simon (second from right) has played a key role in bringing Canadians of all backgrounds together.   


Born in an Inuit village in Quebec, Simon said that practices she learned in her Indigenous community could help Canada now. “What I was taught as a young person was to not take more than we need,” she said. By making small changes, like reducing waste and emissions, we can balance growth with conservation.

Simon also believes that mental health should be addressed in the same way that physical health is, and that the two are interdependent. Young people are facing increasing mental health challenges, heightened by the pandemic. Making mental health services readily available to kids, Simon said, would be a significant step forward. 

Although work is being done to advance racial equality in Canada, there is still a gulf between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities. Simon believes that reconciliation between these communities must involve all Canadians, including young people. Educating kids about both the failures and successes in Canada’s history would help to promote understanding between people, she said. When everyone feels respected and safe, reconciliation can become a way of life.

“I see myself as the fabric of that whole area, where I ensure that everybody is able to tell their own individual stories or their collective stories,” she said.

Simon has faced many hurdles in her career. She stressed the importance of moving forward through adversity. “If you take an event and learn from it,” she said, “it makes you into a stronger individual.”


Editor’s note: Nikita was a Scholastic Kid Reporter from 2018 until 2021. 


Photos courtesy of Mary Simon