Mary Simon, Inuita’s strong defender

Against arctic drilling, seal hunting and protecting Inuit traditions: Throughout her career, Mary Simon, the first indigenous woman to be named Governor General of Canada on Tuesday, fought tirelessly to preserve this people’s culture is.

Queen Elizabeth II’s new representative, officially Canada’s head of state, Mary Simon, welcomed her appointment as “an important step towards the long road to reconciliation”. The country has been under pressure in recent weeks after more than a thousand anonymous graves were discovered near former residential schools for indigenous peoples.

This is a 73-year-old woman, long brown-haired, who received the first official apology from the Canadian government in 2008 during a ceremony in the House for forcibly enrolling thousands of indigenous people in these residential schools. of commons.

“Let us not be fooled by the notion that tomorrow when the sun rises, the pain and scars will vanish”, she pleaded then.

– “colonial concepts” –

Born in 1947 in a small village in Nunavik, this vast region of the far north of Quebec, Mary Simon started out as a radio host for the English channel CBC.

From the 1980s, she became involved in protecting the Inuit, which began with protecting the environment they live in. As president of the Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC), she condemns pollution of the Arctic, then oil drilling.

In 2006, she became the head of the main Inuit organization in Canada, the Inuit Tapirit Qanatum.

To protect the culture of this people and its practices, it does not hesitate to plunge into international arm wrestling.

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Like when Brussels banned the trade of seal products in Europe in 2010 in the name of protecting animals. “The colonial perception of our hunting practices,” she criticizes. The Governor General of Canada at the time, Michael Jean, eats a piece of raw seal heart as a sign of solidarity.

Same story when Washington tries to classify the polar bear as an endangered species: “This is a direct attack on our rights, our culture, our hunting customs, our agreements on the protection of nature and its conservation. Management, and against the local economies. of the indigenous peoples of the Arctic”, further accuses the Inuit leader.

Yet it is in the area of ​​cultural preservation that her opponents risk lifting the shield: Marie Simon does not speak French well, one of the country’s official languages, which is as “threatened” by many Quebecers. is seen.

So she pledged to take lessons in “being able to represent all Canadians well,” said Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

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