Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs wants the next Governor General to be First Nations
WINNIPEG -- With the job of Governor General now vacant, the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) is urging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to appoint someone who is First Nations.
“The selection of a First Nations Governor General from Manitoba or from other parts of the country would send a strong message to the Treaty Nations that his government is sincere about its rhetoric on reconciliation,” said AMC Grand Chief Arlen Dumas in a statement.
Julie Payette stepped down as Governor General Thursday, after an independent review into workplace harassment at Rideau Hall.
She is the first representative of the Queen in Canada to resign in scandal.
Dumas said he plans to have discussions with the federal government and “Buckingham Palace if necessary” on Payette's replacement.
“There are many very qualified First Nations nominees right here in Manitoba with equally extensive backgrounds who could fulfil the role,” said Dumas. “To the Treaty Nations in Manitoba and across Canada, the role of the Governor General is more than symbolic. As the Queen’s representative to Canada, the role is central to breathing life into the Treaty relationship.”
However, some say it could be a difficult reckoning piecing together the monarchy’s history of colonialism and the possibility of a First Nations Governor General.
“While (the monarchy) is an enduring symbol of colonialism, it would also a restore a government connection with the Crown as established in the Royal Proclamation of 1763,” said Cary Miller, head of Native studies at the University of Manitoba, in an email to CTV News.
The proclamation is a historic document that recognizes Indigenous land rights.
The appointment of a First Nations GG could also raise awareness about concerns facing Indigenous communities including health-care access, the need for safe drinking water, and language revitalization, added Miller.
“While the Governor General position today is largely ceremonial, it is a platform that gives the occupant a voice.”