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Women With Sway — Michaëlle Jean

1 October 2010 237 views 2 Comments

Right Honourable Michelle Jean, Governor General of Canada, speaking at the 25th annual BBPA Harry Jerome awards

Occupation:  Journalist and 27th Governor General of Canada (since Confederation)

Contribution: Michaëlle Jean knows what it’s like to help those in need. Her road to lending a helping hand started when Jean was 11 and her family fled the brutal Haitian dictatorship of Francois Duvalier (Papa Doc). Settling in Montreal, Jean attained several university degrees.

Her expertise with languages (Italian, Spanish, French, Haitian Creole and Portuguese) allowed her to assist and to reach out to victimized women and children from diverse backgrounds. She also conducted academic studies on sexually abused women. In the late 1980s Jean’s career shifted to journalism. During this time, she appeared on several Canadian television and radio shows. On Sept. 25, 2005, Jean was appointed the 27th Governor General of Canada (since Confederation), making her the first Black person in that post.

Inspiration:  “I think really working on reasons to believe and to hope in humanity’s possibilities is something that inspires me a lot … I believe in the power of ideas. I believe in empowering people. I like people and I love connecting. It’s a communion of ideas, values, ideals, and it’s magic. People crave for that.”

Message to Young People:  “Five years ago, when I assumed the post of Governor General, I made youth one of my mandate priorities. Throughout my visits from coast to coast to coast, I have had the immense privilege of meeting with young Canadians from all walks of life. Along the way, I have discovered a generation of passionate and daring young people whose imagination knows no bounds and who recognize that diversity and individual differences are a great source of mutual pride and enrichment.

I have also been impressed by young people’s ability to come up with solutions and to create networks of solidarity. In the face of every challenge, they represent a promise of renewal. They are agents of change — a living strength that wants to grow, to have its voice heard and to find its place in the heart of our communities.”

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