Toronto

Indigenous community 'hopeful' following Governor General's 1st official visit to Toronto

Gov. Gen. Mary Simon made her first official visit to Toronto on Thursday, marking a moment of hope for the city's Indigenous community. 

Mary Simon met with premier, mayor and Indigenous leaders

Governor General Mary Simon attends a welcome ceremony at the provincial legislature, in Toronto, on Thursday. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Gov. Gen. Mary Simon made her first official visit to Toronto on Thursday, marking a moment of hope for the city's Indigenous community. 

"[I'm] always hopeful for a better tomorrow. Hopefully these types of meetings can open some doors for a better tomorrow," said Native Canadian Centre of Toronto CEO Kevin Wassegijig. 

Simon is the first Indigenous person ever to hold the position. Wassegijig is confident she will help strengthen the relationship between Ottawa and the country's Indigenous community. 

"We've had our own form of government, our own form of beliefs," he said. "Hopefully having [Simon] as Governor General can signify that acceptance and recognition of our government and our people." 

But Wassegijig says his optimistic outlook is laced with caution. 

"We've been through a lot, so there's a long way to go," he said. "I don't think we're going to see immediate change." 

Native Canadian Centre of Toronto CEO Kevin Wassegijig says he is 'cautiously optimistic' that Gov. Gen. Mary Simon will bring about significant changes for the Indigenous community. (CBC)

Speaking with Ontario's premier, Indigenous leaders and Toronto's mayor on Thursday, Simon spoke of her own goals, highlighting the importance of respecting one another's cultures. 

"I think it was agreed that our country was ready for this dialogue that we had called reconciliation and what it means for us to be working together more," she said. 

This comes after Simon told Queen Elizabeth earlier this month that Canada's history books should be rewritten to reflect the facts about the relationship between the Crown and Indigenous people.

On Thursday, Simon met with members of city council before a private meeting with Mayor John Tory. 

Tory said the pair had an "excellent" conversation, covering a range of Indigenous-related issues, including the need to have younger people play a more prominent role in decision making. 

"There are fewer young people in this building than there should be," Tory said, adding that he plans to create a fellowship program for young Indigenous people. 

Key moment's from Simon's visit to Toronto: 

On Friday, Simon will visit a Ukrainian organization to talk about some of the humanitarian efforts its members are engaged in. 

She will also visit an Indigenous school that teaches Anisshnaabe cultural traditions.

Toronto is Simon's first stop in her plan to visit all Canadian capital cities. 

With files from Julia Knope and Lorenda Reddekopp

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