Mary Simon, OC, QC, comes from Kuujjuaq, Nunavik and was born in Kangiqsualujjuaq, Nunavik (Arctic Quebec). She is the recent past president of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, the National Inuit Organization (2006-2012), and just 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.(2012-2014).
Ms. Simon 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 (the Land Claims Organization for Inuit of Nunavik , president of the Inuit Circumpolar Council and Canadian Ambassador For Circumpolar Affairs, as well as to the Kingdom of Denmark, and is the Founding Chair of the Arctic Children and Youth Foundation. She is also an Honorary Witness for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Ms. Simon led Canada’s negotiations during the creation of the eight-nation Arctic Council in the mid-1990s. The Arctic Council includes the Indigenous Peoples of the Circumpolar Region as Permanent Participants. She is an Officer of the Order of Canada and recipient of the National Order of Quebec, the Gold Order of Greenland, a 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, and is a Fellow of the Arctic Institute of North America and of the Royal Canadian Geographic Society.
Ms. Simon has also received many academic distinctions, including nine honorary doctorates of Law from Canadian Universities (McGill, Guelf, Trent, University of Alberta, Memorial, Carleton, Queens, Loyalist College and Mount Saint Vincent.) 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 honoured by the Public Policy Forum for her contributions to public life, public policy and governance in Canada.