People & Culture

Governor General Mary Simon named Patron of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society

Her Excellency maintains a tradition of vice regal patronage that extends back to 1929 with the Society’s founding Patron The Rt. Hon. Viscount Willingdon

  • Apr 12, 2022
  • 327 words
  • 2 minutes
Her Excellency the Right Honourable Mary Simon, Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada. (Photo: Sgt Johanie Maheu, Rideau Hall © OSGG-BSGG, 2021)
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The Royal Canadian Geographical Society (RCGS) is honoured to announce that Her Excellency the Right Honourable Mary Simon, Governor General of Canada, has accepted to become Patron of the Society. In so doing, Her Excellency maintains a tradition of vice regal patronage  that extends back to 1929 with the Society’s founding Patron The Rt. Hon. Viscount Willingdon. 

In 1998, the RCGS presented Simon with its Gold Medal, and conferred an Honorary Fellowship upon her to recognize her accomplishments as an Inuit leader and as a Canadian diplomat. By extending her Patronage, Her Excellency has in turn now honoured the Society. 

“Mary Simon’s historic appointment as Governor General will bring unique knowledge and guidance to Canada, and her Patronage of RCGS will do the same for the Society,” said John Geiger, CEO of RCGS. “This is a great moment. At the dawn of the United Nations Decade of Indigenous Languages, we are blessed to have Her Excellency, together with RCGS Honorary President Chief Perry Bellegarde, to guide us as we venture ever deeper into our journey of truth seeking and reconciliation.” 

Simon was appointed Canada’s 30th Governor General last July. Born in Kangiqsualujjuaq, Nunavik [northern Quebec], Simon, a former Canadian diplomat and a fellow with the Arctic Institute of North America, is the first Indigenous Governor General. 

Reconciliation can mean transforming longstanding institutions in Canada. That means having First Nations, Inuit and Metis people in leadership roles where we can engage Canadians in our traditional worldviews.

Chief Perry Bellegarde

“Reconciliation can mean transforming longstanding institutions in Canada,” he said. “That means having First Nations, Inuit and Metis people in leadership roles where we can engage Canadians in our traditional worldviews.”

Gavin Fitch, Chair of the Board of the RCGS, spoke of the organization’s excitement over the granting of Patronage: “Mary Simon is a great Canadian; she is someone who has demonstrated a lifetime of service to the country,” he said. “We are deeply honoured and grateful for this news.” 

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