Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to congratulate Ms. Mary Simon on the occasion of her appointment as Canada's first circumpolar ambassador. The announcement was made jointly by the federal Foreign Affairs Minister, Andre Ouellette, and the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Ron Irwin, late last week. Dr. Simon, who is the first Inuit to hold an ambassadorial position in Canada, will assume this position on October 31, 1994, on Monday.
Ms. Simon is known for her dedication, her impressive list of accomplishments and for creating awareness about and generating action about northern issues, particularly as they relate to the concerns of northern aboriginal peoples. Ms. Simon was born in northern Quebec and worked for CBC Northern Service until 1973, including responsibilities as a producer and announcer for Inuktitut radio and television.
She has held a number of positions with the Inuit Tapirisat of Canada and has been a member of the board since 1991. In 1979, Dr. Simon served as first vice-president of the Makavik Corporation and was elected president in 1982. From 1980 to 1983 she was an executive council member of the Inuit circumpolar conference and served as its president from 1986 to 1992. Since then, she has been the special envoy to the Inuit circumpolar conference, dealing with many important issues such as fur harvesting.
In 1992, she was awarded an honorary doctorate from McGill University and was appointed a year later as co-director of policy and commission secretary for the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. In 1994, she was appointed as a member of the Nunavut implementation commission.
Mary Simon has been honoured for her work through appointments to the Order of Canada, the National Order of Quebec and the Gold Order of Greenland. Circumpolar ambassador, Dr. Simon will report to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. As well as representing Canada at international meetings on circumpolar issues, she will coordinate federal efforts on circumpolar issues, including the implementation of a Canadian proposal to create an Arctic council, a fulfilment of Canada's policy with respect to Antarctica and Canada's participation in the eight-nation Arctic environmental protection strategy. The next ministerial conference on the Arctic environmental protection strategy is scheduled for the spring of 1996, and it is to be hosted by Canada in Iqaluit.
Madam Speaker, I've had the pleasure of working with Mary Simon in the past on a number of issues of importance to the north. Her keen interest in addressing and motivating action in critical areas such as the environment and political development has provided a strong voice for northern people. Her appointment as Canada's first circumpolar ambassador will continue to provide an effective role in international recognition for northerners in areas within her mandate. I'm particularly pleased that the federal government has not only acknowledged the significant contribution of Mary Simon to the advancement of circumpolar and aboriginal issues, but Ottawa has also recognized that a northern aboriginal person can most effectively represent Canada's as its first circumpolar ambassador.
The Premier and I both have written to Ms. Simon on behalf of the Government of the Northwest Territories to congratulate her on her appointment. Dr. Simon has been invited to meet with the Government of the Northwest Territories and Members of this Assembly at her earliest convenience to review northern matters related to her mandate and to determine how we can provide assistance and support for her important work. Thank you.