As queen’s platinum anniversary draws to a close, governors general ponder ‘important time’ – National


As the Queen’s platinum anniversary celebrations enter their final day, Governor General Mary Simon emphasizes that the occasion highlights the need to commemorate an “important moment” in Canada’s history.

“It is a very important moment in our history. It is very important for her to see that she is very much appreciated. The crowds in London were huge,” said Simon, Canada’s first Indigenous Governor General.

She sat down with Worldwide nationalDawna Friesen on Saturday at the Canadian High Commission in London, UK, just a short walk from where tens of thousands danced up and down The Mall for a huge anniversary celebration later that evening.

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And it turns out Simon says she was with them.

“Yes, of course,” she said when asked if she would go to the concert outside Buckingham Palace. “I’m there for the party as well as for work.”

Simon, Inuk, was sworn in as Governor General in July 2021 and first met the Queen earlier this year when she traveled to London in March. After that meeting, Simon called the Queen an “inspiration in these difficult times” and said they discussed the Inuit concept of “onionnata”.

It means “never give up,” according to Rideau Hall.

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She said there is still work to be done on reconciliation with indigenous peoples in Canada and that work sometimes “stalls”. But the discovery of unmarked graves in the sites of former residential schools was a shock to the entire country, Simon added.

“It made Canadians realize that they could really see and feel the impact of the schools,” she said.

While the platinum anniversary marks the momentous occasion of 70 years on the throne – a first for a British monarch and a feat no monarch will ever achieve, experts say – it has also raised new questions about the monarchy’s relevance in modern times. .

Click to Play Video: 'Queen's Long and Complicated Relationship with Canada's Indigenous Peoples'

The Queen’s Long and Complicated Relationship with Canada’s Indigenous Peoples

The Queen’s Long and Complicated Relationship with Canada’s Indigenous Peoples

Queen Elizabeth has pushed during her reign to modernize the monarchy, broadcast her coronation and find new ways to connect the institution to the big events of the day, including the 2012 London Olympics, where she made a startling video. performance with Daniel Craig .

However, those who have met her in person often describe the Queen as someone with a sense of humor and a deep love for her family – a topic Simon says the two discussed when they met.

“It was a nice visit. She was very involved and very warm and friendly, and I felt very comfortable in her home,” said Simon. “The whole visit to me was a time for me to express to her how proud I was to be her representative in to be Canada.”

“She talked quite a bit about her family,” she added, “and that was really good for me because I love my grandkids and my kids.”

Governor General David Johnson ponders a question during an interview on Wednesday, September 14, 2011, at his Rideau Hall official residence in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand.


One of Simon’s predecessors also offered similar reflections, as well as a personal take on the Queen’s humor and personality, leading to an ongoing penpal relationship.

It all started when she invited former Governor General David Johnson to visit her Balmoral estate in Scotland when he took his oath of office in August 2010.

“They made us feel like we were members of the family, and we’re just there for an enjoyable weekend with them,” Johnson recalled during an interview with The Western Bloc‘s Mercedes Stephenson.

‘Then, as we left, she said, ‘I do read letters, you know,’ and I said, ‘Well, I’ll be happy to write letters to Your Majesty. And if you think they’re boring, just let me know and I’ll stop.’”

“So I started to get into the habit of writing to her almost quarterly and not at the diplomatic ambassador level, just a few insights into what was going on in Canada and to some extent about our family,” he continued. “And she was very interested in our family.”

“And you’re still writing to her now?” Stephenson asked.

“Yes. Less, but yes,” Johnson said, describing the Queen as having a “wonderful sense of humour.”

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After the trip to Balmoral, Johnson says he sent a Rideau Hall employee to Buckingham Palace on an exchange to learn more about how the palace works and its traditions.

When it came time for the staff member to return to Canada, Johnson says the Queen asked them to pass a message to Johnson: “‘Tell him how much I appreciate his letters, but would you like to give a special thank you to Miss Benmore? , his executive assistant, because she typed those letters so I could read his handwriting?’”

Johnson said he hopes sharing some of the personal stories of his interactions with the Queen will not only help more Canadians understand her sense of duty for the role, but also, as he put it, “her remarkable human qualities.”

“I really want people to understand that second part of her personality,” Johnson added.

While the monarchy will continue to evolve, Johnson says he often says to young people who ask him questions about whether the institution is still relevant.

“I say, if you are thinking of an alternative to a hereditary constitutional monarchy, think carefully about the alternative,” he said, pointing to the political stability in democracies with those government models, such as Norway, Sweden, New Zealand, the UK and Australia.

In contrast, he said that combining the powers of head of state and head of government into one person, as in the US presidential system, results in “a heavy burden to bear”.

“And while their constitution contains a lot of checks and balances, in my opinion those checks and balances don’t work nearly as well as the checks and balances in our system.”

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