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  • Anne Alderman

Her Excellency the Right Honourable Mary Simon:

The 2024 Mat-Su Arctic Winter Games hosted several distinguished guests, but none as esteemed as Her Excellency the Right Honourable Mary Simon. Her excellency holds the notable distinction of being Canada's first Indigenous Governor General, assuming office in July of 2021. As an Inuk woman from Kangiqsualujjuaq in Nunavik, Quebec, the Governor General’s political career has been defined by her unwavering dedication to Indigenous and Arctic issues. She was the first Inuk to hold an ambassadorial position and was pivotal in championing the establishment of the Arctic Council. This intergovernmental forum tackles pressing Arctic challenges, mirroring the Games' ethos of fostering collaboration among Arctic nations. 


Her Excellency Mary Simon traveled to Alaska March ninth through the twelfth at the request of The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada. During her trip, the Governor General attended sporting events, met with Canadian athletes, and spoke at Opening Ceremonies. She delivered a moving speech that highlighted the unique and important nature of the Arctic Winter Games, saying the Games “bring people together to celebrate cooperation and cultural exchange. They give us an opportunity to learn from one another, understand each other, and work together to address common challenges that face the arctic region”.


Ms. Simon has helped bring Arctic issues to an international stage throughout her career and she applauded the Arctic Winter Games’ ability to “show the entire world how accomplished, diverse and united the Northern peoples are.” Her Excellency highlighted an Inuktitut word that embodies the tenacity of the games participants and was met with thunderous applause. Governor General defined the word, Ajuinata, sharing that “it means preserving in the face of obstacles, it means never to give up. You never gave up as you worked tirelessly honing your skills, and pushing the boundaries of what you thought possible to get here so we will never give up as a people in the circumpolar north”. 


Her Excellency has dedicated her career to the betterment of the North and it was an honor to hear her speak. In Alaska our state motto is “North to the Future”. With advocates like Her Excellency, the Right Honourable Mary Simon and this year’s hardworking participants, the future of the North is in great hands

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