Politics

Gov. Gen. Mary Simon says she and the Queen discussed reconciliation, Canada's 'real history'

Gov. Gen. Mary Simon says she told Queen Elizabeth this week that Canada's history books should be rewritten to reflect the facts about the relationship between the Crown and Indigenous people.

Simon said young people need to learn the facts about Canada's relationship with Indigenous people

Gov. Gen. Mary Simon on meeting the Queen, crisis in Ukraine

5 months ago
Duration 8:15
Gov. Gen Mary Simon talks to Adrienne Arsenault about her first meeting with the Queen, the war in Ukraine and how Canada could do more.

Gov. Gen. Mary Simon says she told Queen Elizabeth this week that Canada's history books should be rewritten to reflect the facts about the relationship between the Crown and Indigenous people.

"I was talking to her about the various situations like in Canada," Simon told CBC's Adrienne Arsenault after meeting the Queen on Tuesday. "The historical wrongs of the past and how we needed to change Canada's history books so that young people could learn what the real history is, without necessarily pointing fingers.

"We talked about reconciliation and I did talk about the need for healing in our country and to have a better understanding and a better relationship between Indigenous people and other Canadians."

Simon said she felt that the Queen was well informed on issues affecting Canada, including the recent occupation of Ottawa by anti-vaccine mandate protesters.

"I think she found it difficult to understand," Simon said of the Queen's reaction to the blockades. "It's like the Ukraine crisis — she finds that difficult to understand."

Simon said the Queen told her she knows what it's like to live in a city under siege, with air raid sirens going off at all hours.

"During the years of the Hitler regime, I guess she was very much affected by that, and she, I think, could almost see some similarities happening, and she talked about that," she said.

Simon said she congratulated the Queen on her Platinum Jubilee and the two talked about how they've both recovered recently from COVID-19.

"It was a wonderful day," she said. "I think, one of my best days since I became a human on this earth.

Queen Elizabeth II welcomes Gov. Gen. Mary Simon and her husband Whit Fraser to tea in the Oak Room at Windsor Castle in Windsor, England on March 15, 2022. An Inuk leader from Nunavik in Quebec, Simon is the first Indigenous person to hold the office. (Associated Press/Steve Parsons)

"It was very heartwarming and she was very welcoming and she was very sharp and talked a lot about, you know, her own children and her grandchildren and also about the situation we're facing in Ukraine. 

"That was at the top of her mind … and [she is] very worried about what's going to be happening to people in Ukraine."

Simon said she also is concerned about the plight of Ukrainians and is hoping to connect with Ukrainians as she travels across Canada.

The Governor General said that while she is not familiar with how the immigration process works for Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion, government processes can always be made easier.

"I think we need to look at how we bring in people from other countries and make it perhaps a little bit more simpler," she said. 

"I know that when we have to fill out forms from the Indigenous community, people always find it very difficult, even though it's within our own country. So I can't imagine what it's like for people coming into the country."

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