I first met Roberta Jamieson in 2011 when I represented the Mount Saint Vincent University Board of Governors at a conference in Saskatoon. A distinguished lawyer, First Nations activist and Order of Canada member, Roberta was someone I had to seek out as the Mount’s representative, as she is someone who also holds an honorary doctorate from the Mount.
Our conversation was warm, but Roberta was very direct to me in our first (and to date only) conversation. The Mount needed to do a better job for our Indigenous peoples. I brought this advice back to the Mount’s board chair and our (then) new president Ramona Lumpkin. Thankfully, Ramona already had plans to take action on this matter and under her leadership, the Mount’s Aboriginal Student Centre (ASC) opened in 2013. The ASC was created to support students in an educational and culturally engaging space on the Mount campus.
Bottom line: when Roberta Jamieson offers up advice on putting reconciliation with our Indigenous peoples into action, we should listen up.
This article from John Ivison in the National Post suggests that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has already made up his mind on who to recommend to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II as Canada’s next Governor General. That recommendation apparently will not be an Indigenous person.
I hope Justin Trudeau proves John Ivison wrong – especially in light of the highly qualified Indigenous candidates listed in his column. The legal basis of our relationship with Canada’s Indigenous peoples involves Canada’s Crown and treaties signed in the name of our Monarch at the time. I think it would be a wonderful step forward for an Indigenous person to be named Canada’s next Governor-General.