Mary Simon, OC, QC, comes from Kuujjuaq, Nunavik and was born in Kangiqsualujjuaq, Nunavik (Arctic Quebec).
She has advanced critical social, economic and human rights issues for Canadian Inuit regionally, nationally and internationally. Over four decades she has held senior leadership positions including Minister’s Special Representative – Shared Arctic Leadership Model (2016-17), led the implementation of ‘First Canadians, Canadians First’ – a national strategy on Inuit Education (2015-16), and was Chairperson of the National Committee on Inuit Education (2012-14).
From 2006 to 2012, Mary Simon was President of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami – the national Inuit organization. She has served as President of Makivik Corporation (a land claims organization for Inuit of Nunavik), President of the Inuit Circumpolar Council, Canadian Ambassador for Circumpolar Affairs as well as to the Kingdom of Denmark, and was the founding Chair of the Arctic Children and Youth Foundation. Ms. Simon also led Canada’s negotiations during the creation of the eight-nation Arctic Council in the mid-1990s and is an honorary witness for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Mary Simon is an Officer of the Order of Canada, recipient of the National Order of Quebec, the Gold Order of Greenland, the National Aboriginal Achievement Award, Gold Order of the Canadian Geographic Society, Symons Medal, and Governor General’s Northern Award. She has been inducted into the International Women’s Hall of Fame, is a Fellow of the Arctic Institute of North America and of the Royal Canadian Geographic Society, and is a recent recipient of the CCAB/SODEXO Award for Excellence in Aboriginal Relations. In 2014, Ms. Simon was honored by the Public Policy Forum for her contributions to public life, public policy, and governance in Canada, and in 2013 she received recognition as a nation builder from the Famous Five.
She has also received many other distinctions including eleven honorary doctorates of Laws from Canadian Universities (McGill, Guelf, Trent, University of Alberta, Memorial, Carleton, Queens, Loyalist College, Mount Saint Vincent, University of British Columbia, and University of Victoria). She also served as Chancellor of Trent University.