Her Excellency the Right Honourable Governor General Mary
Canada’s first Indigenous Governor General sees history education as the
key to unlocking a better future.
For more than one hundred years, Canada’s History, founded in 1920 as
The Beaver, has shared the photographs and stories of people in Canada.
When we published our special collector’s issue marking a century of
publishing last year, we made a commitment to bring back The Beaver as a
reimagined annual supplement that centres on Indigenous stories and
storytellers — perspectives often pushed to the side or neglected
altogether in the early days of the magazine.
We know that if we are to learn from history it is increasingly
important to amplify the voices and to share the stories of all
At the time of publishing, we find ourselves at an unparalleled moment
in Canadian history with the installation of Her Excellency the Right
Honourable Mary Simon as the thirtieth Governor General of Canada — a
moment that resonates deeply with our promise to better reflect the
lives and stories of those who live in this country. A former diplomat
and journalist and a distinguished Inuk leader, Simon is the first
Indigenous person to hold the viceregal position. She meets this moment
in our shared history with a unique range of perspectives and
experiences. She was born in Nunavik, in northern Quebec, and her
father, Bob May (who was originally from Manitoba), ran the local
Hudson’s Bay Company post, while her mother, Nancy May, was Inuk.
Throughout her life, Simon learned how to navigate between differing
Inuit and non-Inuit worlds. She brings an understanding and strength to
her new role, allowing her to act as a bridge between Canadians’ diverse
At her installation on July 26 Simon reminded us of the importance of
learning about history to envision a better tomorrow, saying that she
“will strive to hold together the tension of the past with the promise
of the future.”
The Right Honourable Roméo LeBlanc, the twenty-fifth Governor General of
Canada, similarly recognized the value of history and historical
education when he established the Governor General’s History Awards in
A former teacher, LeBlanc helped to inspire a national recognition
program for Canadian history teachers. Since then, more than two hundred
teachers have been honoured, and the Governor General’s History Awards
have expanded to include other deserving storytellers and organizations.
From teachers, authors, and scholars to curators, community volunteers,
and more, the distinguished award recipients bring context and clarity
to the past and inspire us to learn more about Canada and its many
For twenty-five years, Canada’s National History Society has been
honoured to work with the Office of the Secretary to the Governor
General to encourage excellence in educational and public programming
about our history and heritage.
We look forward to working with Her Excellency Mary Simon as we continue
to recognize important stories, the people they represent, and those who
proudly share them.
“Embracing the real history of Canada,” Simon shared, “makes us stronger
as a nation, unites Canadian society, and teaches our kids that we must
always do our best, especially when it’s hard.”