This week has seen a number of historic milestones take place on the national scene, with the appointment of Inuk leader Mary Simon as Canada’s first Indigenous Governor General and the historic election of RoseAnne Archibald as the Assembly of First Nation’s first female national chief.
Both of these women come to their careers following extensive careers that have prepared them for roles that will prove critical in helping re-shape our national identity as we move toward the creation of a more just and civil society and face up to the less savoury aspects of our history.
While the post of governor general, the highest position in our parliamentary government, has been filled by a number of women before, none have been Indigenous, let alone a survivor of the day school system, and Ms. Simon’s experience and skills will go a long way toward building the bridges that will be needed in the years ahead.
For Ms. Archibald, being the first Anishinaabe-kwe to hold a high political post is almost old-hat, having attained the head of her First Nation’s council table as ogimaa at the age of 23, then becoming the first woman and youngest deputy grand chief for Nishnawbe-Aski Nation. The ensuing 30 years will doubtless prove invaluable experience she will leverage in the coming years.
Our nation has long been hamstrung by patriarchal tendencies in all walks of life, but few areas more so than the political offices in which the levers of power reside.
The elevation of two accomplished women to high office bodes well for our nation’s future, as one local First Nation community chief noted off the record, women bring a different set of skills and approaches to the challenges facing leaders and those skills are ideally suited to building bridges and establishing relationships.
As we head into the process of building a post-colonial world, one free from the vestiges of the systemic racism and the blinders that have contributed to the marginalization of minority communities, those skills will be put to the test soon and often—but these women have repeatedly proven themselves, been tested in the crucible of male-dominated worlds, and have emerged ascendant.
We wish the very best for both of these accomplished individuals and look forward to chronicling their future successes in building a brave new, and more inclusive, world.