PM Justin Trudeau and Governor of Canada Mary May Simon welcoming Pope Francis in Edmonton on Sunday, 24 July PM Justin Trudeau and Governor of Canada Mary May Simon welcoming Pope Francis in Edmonton on Sunday, 24 July  (Vatican Media)

Pope to meet the Governor of Canada and PM upon arrival in Quebec

Upon his arrival in Québec from Edmonton on Wednesday, Pope Francis will pay a courtesy visit to the Governor General of Canada, Mary Simon, and meet briefly with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in the Citadelle de Québec.

By Lisa Zengarini

After the welcome ceremony in the “Citadelle”,  the Old Québec, the Pope will meet privately with the Governor of Canada, Ms. Mary Simon, in her official residence, while Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will hold talks with the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin.

The Pope will then address civil authorities, representatives of Indigenous peoples, and members of the diplomatic corps.

First Indigenous leader to be appointed as Governor of Canada

Mary Simon was appointed as 30th Governor of Canada on 6 July 2021 and is the first-ever Indigenous leader in Canada to hold this post. Aged 75 and mother of three, she was born to a local Inuk woman and an English fur trader father who worked at a Hudson's Bay Company outpost. She is bilingual in English and Inuktitut.

A champion of the rights of Indigenous Peoples, in the early 1970s Ms. Simon helped negotiate the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement, a landmark deal which in 1975 saw the province acknowledge Cree and Inuit rights in the James Bay region for the first time.

She has been president of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK), the national Indigenous organization that works to advance Inuit rights. In 2002, former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien named her Canada's first Arctic ambassador, a position where she worked closely with other circumpolar countries to bolster co-operation in the region. Ms. Simon also served as Canada's ambassador to Denmark.

In 2008, she accepted the formal public apology offered by former Prime Minister Stephen Harper to residential school survivors and all Indigenous people in Canada.

Private meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Before addressing civil authorities, representatives of Indigenous peoples and members of the diplomatic corps in the “Citadelle”, Pope Francis will also have a private encounter with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Son of one of Canada's most notable prime ministers, Pierre Trudeau, he was elected in the Canadian Parliament in 2008, after having been a teacher. As leader of the Liberal Party, he was first elected to the position of Prime Minister in 2015, and then for a second term in 2019.

He is currently president of the Canadian charity Katimavik, whose mission is to engage young people in active citizenship in order to create a more inclusive society, and to promote reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and with Canada’s other diverse cultures. 

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27 July 2022, 12:35