Mary Simon’s coronation outfit represents her Inuit culture

Designer Beatrice Deer spent weeks designing outfit worn by Governor General at ceremony Saturday in London

Singer and designer Beatrice Deer, left, holds up the annuraaq she made for Gov. Gen. Mary Simon to wear at King Charles’ coronation on Saturday at Westminster Abbey in London. The design, which includes traditional beadwork, embroidery and fur details, is meant to represent Simon’s culture and connection to Nunavik, where Deer is also from. (Photo courtesy of Sgt. Mathieu St-Amour, Rideau Hall/Office of the Secretary to the Governor General)

By Madalyn Howitt

While Gov. Gen. Mary Simon was among the thousands attending the coronation of King Charles in London, England on Saturday, her clothes told a story of her home thousands of kilometres away.

The dress, or annuraaq, Simon wore to the ceremony was designed by fellow Nunavimmiut Beatrice Deer, the celebrated singer-songwriter, designer and mental health activist.

That Nunavik connection was integral to the outfit’s design.

Simon, a longtime friend of Deer’s mother, reached out to Deer through a mutual friend two months ago and said she wanted to wear something that represented her Inuit culture.

“She told me she wanted to make the annuraaq have the traditional curved hem that we see a lot in our clothing,” said Deer, who is well-known as lead singer for the Beatrice Deer Band but who is also an accomplished designer, having sewn clothes since she was 13 years old.

Simon wanted the colours to include emerald green and with black and gold trim.

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So Deer got to work coming up with ideas.

After meeting Simon in person and showing her a sketch of her design that blended traditional and contemporary designs, Deer began the month-and-a-half process of creating the garment.

Gov. Gen. Mary Simon’s official coat of arms (left) and brightly beaded patches for her kamik boots are some of the details included in the outfit Simon wore to the coronation of King Charles on Saturday. The outfit was designed by singer Beatrice Deer, who like Simon also hails from Nunavik. (Photo courtesy of Sgt. Mathieu St-Amour, Rideau Hall/Office of the Secretary to the Governor General)

In addition to sewing the different fabrics, like sheer green material on the arms, caribou fur details and a white fox-fur collar, the process included beading and embroidering the Governor General’s official coat of arms for a chest piece on the annuraaq.

Simon’s personal coat of arms features an arctic fox, which symbolizes her career as a diplomat and advocate for circumpolar affairs, and it incorporates her motto, Ajuinnata, which means “to persevere” or “never give up” in Inuktitut.

“If you look at historical photos of our women, a lot of them have this incredible beaded artwork on their garments, so that’s what I wanted to follow,” Deer said.

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However, she added, “I wasn’t sure on how to accomplish doing it justice.”

So, after enlisting advice from friends and looking up different embroidery techniques she could use to tackle the complex design, Deer employed a technique that involved printing the pattern on a special thin paper, embroidering over the pattern and then tearing off the paper underneath.

Just as important to the look were the accessories.

Deer also wanted to add a modern twist on traditional kamiks, or sealskin leather boots, so she beaded some floral patches and weaved sparkling Swarovski crystals into a fuschia-and-gold design, colours that Simon herself likes, Deer said.

Designer Beatrice Deer worked nearly every day for a month and a half on the annuraaq and accessories worn by Gov. Gen. Mary Simon at the coronation of King Charles in London. The design included intricate beadwork and an embroidered version of Simon’s coats of arms. (Photo courtesy of Sgt. Mathieu St-Amour, Rideau Hall/Office of the Secretary to the Governor General)

She added a matching pair of hair pins to complete the look.

The garment took roughly 50 hours to complete, with Deer working on aspects of it “almost on a daily basis,” she said.

Some last-minute assistance from friends, including singer Nadia Mike from The Jerry Cans, helped Deer collect enough beads to pull the look together in time for Simon’s fitting at Rideau Hall last Sunday.

So how does Deer feel knowing a garment she made was seen by so many people in person and around the world on television?

“It’s a real honour, for sure,” Deer said.

“I have such a high regard for Mary Simon and I wanted to create something that honours her and shows where she comes from.

“She’s just the most gentle, nice, kind woman [who’s] done so much for our people and now being the Governor General, knowing what she’s trying to accomplish in her position, is very inspiring and honourable,” Deer said.

“I just wanted to show my appreciation by doing this garment, and doing it properly.”

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(27) Comments:

  1. Posted by Barry on

    According to previous commenter “NUNAVIMIUK”:
    “Everybody is off across the pond for their photo op on our dime !!”

    So this is all a waste of time, eh, “NUNAVIMIUK”? All this amazing work Deer did is a waste?

  2. Posted by Susan Hudson on

    Fabulous! I was waiting for details about the garment as soon as I saw it.
    Thank you!

    • Posted by SARCASM on

      What , couldn t swing by Walmart and pick up some thing cheap before another expensive road trip ?.

  3. Posted by Patricia Graydon on

    Ms. Simon’s choice of apparel for the Coronation was a slap in the face to Canadians. While honoring her own heritage, she lost sight of the fact that she was attending the Coronation to represent the people of Canada, not Mary Simon. You did not represent me nor any other patriotic Canadian. Totally unacceptable and offensive.

    • Posted by Inuit are Canada on

      If you’re going to use us as your sovereign flagpoles, then you better accept that Inuit and all Indigenous Peoples are Canada – not its colonizers or immigrants.
      Inuit are Canada’s culture, get over your privileged self.

      • Posted by Error Correction for You on

        Inuit are one type of Canadian, that are not Canada. Canada is all of our ethnic groups combined. All cultures of Canada are merely one of many of our tapestry.

        The OP does have a point – Simon can highlight her individual heritage all she wants and should rightly be proud of it, but at the end of the day she needs to remember that she is more than Inuk, she represents us all and serves us all, not just one group.

      • Posted by So, Try Again on

        Wow, out of touch much?

        Any Canadian is Canada, doesn’t matter whether Anglophone, Francophone, native-born or immigrant – we are all Canadian.

        How hard is that to understand?

      • Posted by Semantics on

        In the world context, Not all inuit are canadian and not all canadian are inuit.

        In the canadian context, all inuit are canadian but not all Canadians are inuit.

        • Posted by Malarkey on

          Ironically, you naysayers are missing the point, Simon is part Inuk, Qallunaaq. Her dad was a qallunaaq who raised her. She is Canadian. No matter what the GGs where, and what they deem to be theirs will be analyzed and critiqued with a fine tooth nail. She wore pumps, nylons, modern material. Isn’t that Canadian enough for you? Roll eyes. She can’t just shed her inuuniq – inukness and heritage aside. When was the last time you did any service for your country, not just you? What malarkey.

    • Posted by Pork Pie on

      Patricia, Canada is a multi-cultural state. You don’t get to decide which cultural symbols have primacy or which are allowed to represent and which are not.

      It’s great that our Governor General participated in this event and that she represented herself in the traditional clothing of her culture. If you are a nationalist, you should see this as a success.

    • Posted by Chin King on

      Good thing them British beat France back in the day or we’d all “be Cajun” speaking.
      Long may King Charles reign.♥️

    • Posted by anon on

      Quick, someone tell the heads of state and other representatives from Japan, Indonesia, Bhutan, Qatar, Thailand, Morocco, Malaysia, every attendee in military uniform, and every British royal wearing ceremonial regalia that they shouldn’t have done that!

  4. Posted by Helen Whitefield on

    As the Governor General of Canada wearing a dress that represents your culture was incorrect. You represent Canada not jus the Inuit Culture. This is not a representation of the Canadian people.
    I’m an immigrant to this country and my parents were both prisoners of WW2 and settled in Ontario in 1950 and it was very difficult as displaced persons. They worked hard and provided a good home for their children.

    Thanks Helen Whitefield

    • Posted by Canada is Indigenous on

      Inuit are Canada and its culture- get used to it! You’re obviously too Euro-centric educated.

      • Posted by Canada Is Not Indigenous on

        Canada certainly has indigenous people, it is NOT indigenous. It is sooo much more than merely one group or worldview.

        Clearly, you need to get out of your bubble and become more aware of Canada’s amazing demographics.

        • Posted by Mr.Miyagi on

          What’s wrong with an Inuk supporting an Inuk? Grow up!

    • Posted by Canada is not a melting pot on

      @Helen if you truly are from immigrant parents and not a troll you should understand that Canada is not, culturally speaking, a melting pot like the US. Here in Canada we encourage all people to embrace their own distinct culture. I’m sure when your parents moved here they weren’t told to assimilate to Canadian culture. Why should it be any different for indigenous Canadians?

  5. Posted by Regula Wipf on

    I was so pleased to see that our first Indigenous Governor General was able to finally acknowledge First Nations at the coronation of the colonial power who was responsible for so many hardships and suffering of First Nations. It is a tribute to her and leaders of First Nations present at this event, that they have continued their dialogue with the Canadian Government in the face of denials, expropriations, non-consultations for over 100 years and that they work to secure their rightful place of the Canadian identity, contrary to what many white royalist Canadians continue to deny.

    • Posted by Real Sluffi on

      Nice effort, but you should know Inuit are not First Nations.

  6. Posted by Paul de Souza on

    Patricia Graydon and Helen Whitefield’s comments seem hateful and hurtful, especially when published in Nunavik. They misunderstand the role of the Monarch’s representative in Canada, the Governor General, and the significance of the GG’s coat of arms. Ms. Deer’s beautiful creation is a wonderful representation of GG Simon and the Canadian people.

    Was GG Michaelle Jean more to Ms. Whitefield’s liking? When she was appointed GG her coat of arms included a broken chain representing her personal experience as a refugee, and those of others disadvantaged and enslaved, in the journey towards liberty.

    GG Simon’s crest contains a circle and a disk that “represent an inclusive relationship between Indigenous peoples and all Canadians”. Her motto, in Inuktitut, is “Let us persevere”, a guiding principle particularly for the difficult task of truth and reconciliation.

    Perhaps Ms. Graydon’s view from outer space was better represented by astronaut and GG Julie Payette. Ad Astra Patricia.

    Let’s consider GG Jules Leger’s simple coat of arms going forward: Wisdom, represented by the snowy owl, above the crown and maple leaf.

    • Posted by Cheryl hoffman on

      Such selfish people in this world. This was a coronation of a good man who will now represent his country. Could everyone not have allowed him to have his day in the limelight.
      This was not a look at me costume party.

    • Posted by Suspicious on

      Those comments are so ignorant and bizarre it is difficult for me to believe they are anything but the work of a troll.

  7. Posted by Eskimos Fan on

    Long live the King. ?

  8. Posted by Opinionated on

    No one would blink an eye if she wore a designer dress made by an Italian fashion designer or any other for that matter, but the minute she wears something that is linked to an Inuit designer, it becomes an issue. Also, the materials are not even what the traditional Inuit clothing were made of so there is no attachment to Inuit cultural aspect to this. Get over yourselves and accept that there are all kinds of designers and people have the right to choose what they feel comfortable in. Pft.

    • Posted by Social Medias Illusions on

      In reality it is not an issue, don’t think a few trolls represent the majority opinion.

  9. Posted by Mr.Miyagi on

    All I see is an Inuk supporting an Inuk. Something we rarely ever see because everyone’s against each other these days. Grow up, people.

    As if supporting the neighborhoods bootlegger/drug dealer is the only only form of f’n support that should exist in nunavik.

  10. Posted by Mark on

    Appointing an Inuk to represent the United Kingdom (the most colonizing country) was a trap set by Trudeau… and you guys fell into it… he used the Inuk side as a decoy, to put you to sleep. Since then you continue to chew the bait with a happy smile on your face.


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