Mary Simon comes from Kuujjuaq, Nunavik and was born in Kangiqsualujjuaq, Nunavik (Arctic Quebec). She was President of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, the National Inuit Organization from 2006 to 2012. She has recently completed her term as Chairperson of the National Committee on Inuit Education with a mandate to implement a comprehensive national strategy, aimed at improving Inuit educational standards and achievements. 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, 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. She is the founding Chair of the Arctic Children and Youth Foundation. During the past two years, Ms. Simon has led the implementation of 10 recommendations from First Canadians, Canadians First, a National Strategy on Inuit Education. Ms. Simon also led Canada’s negotiations during the creation of the eight-Nation Arctic Council in the mid 1990’s.
She 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, the Gold Order of the Canadian Geographic Society, the Symons Medal and the Governor General’s Northern Award. She has been inducted into the International Women’s Hall of Fame. She is a Fellow of the Arctic Institute of North America and of the Royal Canadian Geographic Society. Ms. Simon has also received many other distinctions including eleven honorary doctorates of laws from Canadian universities. She also served as Chancellor of Trent University.
In 2013, Ms. Simon received recognition as a nation builder from the Famous Five. She was recently honored by the Public Policy Forum for her contributions to public life, public policy, and governance in Canada. She is also an Honorary Witness for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Ms. Simon is also a recent recipient of the CCAB/SODEXO Award for “Excellence in Aboriginal Relations”. Most recently, she has been actively involved in the creation of a new organization called Canadians for a New Partnership. She is the Co-chair of the Board of Directors.