OTTAWA – As Canada’s first Indigenous Governor General, Mary May Simon says part of her role is to bridge the gap of understanding between governments and Indigenous communities.

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In an interview with Granthshala National News during his first international visit to Germany, May Simon said that the road ahead to reconciliation involves difficult but important negotiations.

“I think the role is very important because without that understanding, without the necessary work, reconciliation is going to be a very slow process. It’s a lifelong process, but we have to somehow speed it up a little bit, without those people. Disrespect those who have been harmed,” she said.

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May Simon said she wants her legacy to be long lasting and to reflect her work more than what she is.

“I want to work through a variety of issues that are meaningful to Canadians – reconciliation – I put a lot of them in my founding speech…[a legacy] It will go far beyond my tenure as governor general, it should not depend on me being in that position,” she said.

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His remarks come just days after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited the Tk’emlúps te Secwepemc First Nation in BC to apologize for his absence on the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

May Simon was representing Canada at the 2021 Frankfurt Book Fair – the world’s largest trade book fair – where Canada is this year’s special guest. During the visit, the Governor General met with the President of Germany, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel and several top military leaders.

He described the experience as “wonderful” and reflected on the strong ties between the two countries.

“It’s been a really, really positive experience. The conversations and discussions I’ve had with various leaders have been sumptuous. We’ve talked about the pandemic and the crisis we all went through during this period. Huh.”

“There is very strong cooperation going on both at the economic level and at the cultural level.”

Mary Simon noted that she and the president had candid conversations about reconciliation.

“We talked about how difficult this can be. In Canada we are going through the same thing. As governor general, my commitment is to prioritize reconciliation,” she said.

While she said that the few months in her new role have been “intense,” she also said that Rideau Hall’s staff have made it a positive experience.

“I had no idea how amazing the staff were when I was hired. Rideau Hall has the best team ever and I am so lucky to work with them,” she said.

“I believe in teamwork. I don’t believe in where I am here and the rest are down here, I don’t micro-manage.

Her predecessor, Julie Payette, stepped down from the role earlier this year amid allegations that she perpetuated a toxic workplace.

May Simon will return to Ottawa on Thursday.