Her Excellency the Right Honourable Mary May Simon Speech on the Occasion of Letters of Credence

September 9, 2021

Good day, everyone.

We stand on the unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinabe people, who have lived on and cared for this part of the world for thousands of years.

This gathering is the first public event at Rideau Hall in some 18 months—since March 11th, 2020, to be precise.

Rideau Hall has been the home and workplace of Canada’s governors general since Confederation.

Yet this place represents more than that.

Vincent Massey, who was the first Governor General born in Canada, often spoke about this building’s unique ability to act as an instrument for all of Canada and all Canadians.

It is able to serve such an exclusive function because this place and the office is non-partisan and apolitical.

When Canadians come to Rideau Hall, we do so to learn, to celebrate, to honour—and to welcome.

Today, we welcome four new diplomatic representatives to Canada.

I am honoured to be able to reopen this building to guests, to receive you all here today, and to affirm the relationships between our nations.

Ambassador Stepanov, I know through my experience with the Arctic Council that our two countries are able to find common ground and work together.

I cherish the memory of my time working with Inuit of the Chukotka Peninsula during circumpolar conferences in the 1980s, just as I am sure you will look back fondly on your time experiencing our country alongside your family.

Russia and Canada will mark two milestones together over the next year—80 years of diplomatic relations between our two countries, and 50 years since the 1972 Summit Series, a memorable moment in sports history and in friendly competition between Canada and Russia.

Ambassador Ouattara, our two countries enjoy a warm and growing relationship through trade and development programs.

We also celebrate that many Ivorian students are studying at Canadian universities.

This is a strong and positive sign of a connection rooted in shared values of growth and of realizing the potential of every citizen.

As I am working to improve my skills in the language that our two nations hold dear, I will take this auspicious occasion in my first official duty as Governor General to say: bienvenue au Canada, Monsieur l’Ambassadeur (welcome to Canada Mister Ambassador).

Ambassador Ferrari, it is a pleasure to welcome you to Canada.

The wealth of experience you bring from your distinguished career in postings around the world will help you to feel immediately at home in this country’s rich mosaic.

Canadians look forward to continuing to build our deep and valuable relationship with Italy, which has been such a vital ally to us in trade, diplomacy, cultural exchange and emerging issues such as our new Youth Mobility Agreement.

As our two countries, and the rest of the world, seek to emerge from the ongoing pandemic, I am certain that we will be able to continue to share experience and expertise to support each other in rising back stronger.

Ambassador Gudjonsson, I am honoured to meet you and I hope to get the chance to see you again soon, perhaps enjoying your country’s hospitality, as we each celebrate 20 years since the opening of the Icelandic embassy in Ottawa.

I hold a special fondness for your country, as Iceland is one of eight countries—along with Canada and Ambassador Stepanov’s Russia—that sit as permanent members of the Arctic Council.

I believe strongly in the work the Council performs, and see only an increasingly important role for our nations as climate change continues to heavily impact the Arctic.

In closing, allow me to congratulate each of you on your new posting.

I want to thank you for being here to learn about Canada and to share your country’s unique perspective.

Let’s work together in a spirit of partnership and co-operation towards the promise of a better tomorrow.

Thank you.