Governor General Mary Simon says she has spent the days since Queen Elizabeth II’s death reflecting on the regent’s legacy, but now as the king’s representative in Canada she is also bracing for “difficult” conversations. ” coming.
In an interview with CTV News Channel Senior Political Correspondent Mike Le Couteur at Rideau Hall, Simon said she felt sad as she, like many Canadians, mourned the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
She also spoke about reconciliation and the role she thinks Canada’s new monarch will play when it comes to building a “renewed relationship” with Canada’s Indigenous peoples.
Below is a full transcript of the exclusive interview. It has been edited for grammar and clarity.
Mike Le Couteur: Thank you very much for welcoming us to your home, we really appreciate it.
Mary Simon: It’s my pleasure.
Mike Le Couteur: I wanted to ask you, because not only were you the Queen’s representative in Canada, but you also got to know her a bit. So this week, and then until his funeral, how are you feeling?
Mary Simon: “I feel sad. It’s been a tough week, because we’ve admired her and watched her amazing work for a very long time. So it’s, it’s always sad to lose someone like that, or not anyone else. But I think at the same time, she’s always been an inspiration to a lot of us. And, to think about her life at this point, I think that’s very important .”
Mike Le Couteur: I wanted to ask you too, because just as recently as this year you met the current King Charles III and talked about what that means in terms of the relationship between the Crown and Indigenous peoples. There have been those in the last few days who have called for one of his first acts, that of renouncing the Doctrine of Discovery. In your discussions with him when he was here in Canada…how receptive would he be to that? And trying to take that step on the road to reconciliation?
Mary Simon: “The only thing I know is that he is very open to discussing different issues with indigenous people. And I’m not sure exactly how he would react to that specific issue, because I haven’t had that conversation. a more general sense, he is ready to have this dialogue, and to continue the renewed conversation and to renew the conversation that he had when he was still a prince. And now that he is king, he is ready and able to work more closely with indigenous peoples.
Mike Le Couteur: How important is it for you to continue this discussion the next time you speak to him as the new monarch?
Mary Simon: “This is extremely important. The relationship between Indigenous peoples and the Crown has always been a very important aspect of this relationship. And we need to continue this dialogue, resolve the outstanding issues and move the relationship forward. So this is the “One of the things that I focus on a lot is reconciliation between Indigenous peoples and Canadians. And that, in itself, encompasses many issues. And that relationship between Canadians and the Crown, includes the King. And when he was here, he told the indigenous leaders that he is ready to continue this discussion and this dialogue.”
Mike Le Couteur: How was it received by people? And when you talk to Indigenous leaders now, do they want to see that extra action and that extra step forward now?
Mary Simon: Yeah, I’ve had a few talks, and yeah, they’re ready to go that route and reconnect with Her Majesty.
Mike Le Couteur: I also want to ask you that at this time, while many people are honoring the Queen and her legacy, there are people in this country who still have a very difficult relationship with the Crown. Whether it was the relationship with the Anglican Church, of which she was the head, and their role in the residential schools. In a week where we reflect on her legacy and honor her at the same time, what do you say to people who may not feel the same joy or look at her in the same way?
Mary Simon: “My message has always been about hope. And that it is important to continue the dialogue, however difficult it may be. And I think as a representative of His Majesty the King, I am committed to working to do this work in Canada. .
“It’s hard to speak for others, but there will always be difficult issues that we face in terms of building relationships, especially between Canadians and other Indigenous peoples here in Canada. These are tough conversations and I think to resolve these issues we all need to have tough conversations and there is no doubt in my mind that these tough conversations will happen.
“But for me it’s important to have this dialogue, to understand each other. That’s reconciliation, it’s for me to better understand you in your own culture and your own language, as well as you understand who I am, and what is my culture and what is my language.
“And for us to earn that respect, I think that understanding and those stories, we have to tell each other. And that’s probably no different, in terms of the dialogue that we will continue to have with the king.
Mike Le Couteur: Just to finish, before you leave, tell me a bit about this dialogue that the queen would have with the indigenous peoples, because we know when she came, she visited the North very often, and how she loved North.
Mary Simon: “She was very fond of Canada, and its people. And in fact, she was always very happy to go to the Arctic, because she thought the Arctic was a very majestic part of the country. And people are very generous in the North, and talking to the Inuit has always been, I think, a joyful event for her.
“It’s hard for me to say whether she had these in-depth discussions or not because I was unaware of these discussions, but from what she told me herself, she was very happy when she was in Canada. So I guess the king is too, because he followed his mother all through her travels in Canada as well, and told me he would be back.
Mike Le Couteur: I hope Canada will be one of the first places he visits.
Mary Simon: “Well, he was here recently. So, you know, it’s tough. He must have a lot of demands at the moment, especially with Commonwealth countries. So it’s hard to say when he’ll be back, but I’m pretty sure he will.”