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2005: Michaëlle Jean is ‘surprise choice’ for governor general

The Story

Prime Minister Paul Martin has made "a surprise choice" for Canada's next governor general: Michaëlle Jean, a Haitian refugee who grew up to become a successful journalist in Quebec. At the press conference following the announcement, Jean herself seems a little taken aback at how far she's come. "Imagine...my ancestors were slaves and they fought for freedom," she says. In this 2005 CBC-TV news report, the prime minister explains his choice, noting that Jean's life as an immigrant represents "the story of Canada."

Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: Aug. 4, 2005
Guest(s): Keith Brownsey, Nguyen Cuong, Michaëlle Jean, Reed Jones, Paul Martin, Cam Ostercamp, Fabienne Pierre-Jacques
Host: Diana Swain
Reporter: Eric Sorensen, Natalie Clancy
Duration: 6:19

Did You know?

• Michaëlle Jean was born in Haiti on Sept. 6, 1957. She and her family fled the country in 1968 to escape the oppressive regime of François Duvalier. They first arrived in Montreal, then settled in Thetford Mines, Que.

• She became a journalist for Radio-Canada in 1988, hosting shows such as Actuel, Montréal ce soir, Virages and Le Point. She later hosted programs such as Le Monde ce soir, l'Édition québécoise, Horizons francophones, Le Journal RDI and RDI à l'écoute. In 1999, she began working in English for CBC Newsworld, hosting The Passionate Eye and Rough Cuts.

• Jean became Governor General in 2005 and stepped down in the fall of 2010.

Also on August 4:

• 1914: Canada automatically enters the First World War when Britain declares war on Germany. Two weeks later, Canada formally declares war on Germany and Austria-Hungary.
• 1952: Uranium City, Sask. opens to prospectors. Two years later, the local paper reports that 52 mines are operating, with the bulk of the residents living in tents.
• 1998: British Columbia's Nisga'a Nation signs a historic treaty with the provincial and federal governments. It gives resource rights in a 2,000 square kilometre area, a cash settlement and a system of self-government.


Their Excellencies: Canada's Governors General Since 1952 more