Julie Payette has been sworn in as the 29th Governor General of Canada. During a ceremony in the Senate chamber Payette, 53, spoke about her vision for her mandate, citing the importance of science and exploration.
The ceremony included remarks from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau; a 21-gun salute; and several musical performances by artists of close personal significance to the new Governor General, including Ginette Reno singing O’Canada.
The second Canadian woman to go into space and the first Canadian to work aboard the International Space Station, Payette spoke of her journey to the vice-regal office as an unlikely one.
She hailed “diversity” as Canada’s strength, the value of science and evidence-based decision making and the need to reconcile with Indigenous peoples who she said were the original pioneers and “showed us the way.”
“It is a good thing we finally decided to listen again to their wisdom,” said the 53-year-old Payette.
She said she wasn’t expecting the prime minister’s call to become Governor General
But Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who hailed her hard work, discipline and “most importantly, your passion,” said she was a natural for the job.
“Whether as Canada’s chief astronaut or as an Olympic flag bearer you represent the very best of what it means to be Canadian, to serve Canada with aplomb and integrity.”
Hours before, Payette’s story was told in a newly unveiled coat of arms that portrays ambition, whimsy and a musical flair.
Payette replaces David Johnston, 76, who was appointed by former prime minister Stephen Harper.
Johnston and his wife, Sharon, served in the governor general’s office for seven years, beyond the usual five-year term.
At the formal ceremony, she swore three oaths of office administered by Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, who holds the office of deputy governor general.