National Inuit leader will help pick next Governor General

ITK president Natan Obed to sit on six-member advisory group

Natan Obed, the president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, at a 2018 gathering inside Ottawa’s Wabano Centre. He’s been chosen to sit on an advisory group that’s been asked to draw up a short-list of Governor General candidates for submission to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. (Photo by Jim Bell)

By Jim Bell

Natan Obed, the president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, will play a big part in deciding who will become Canada’s next Governor General.

That’s because he’ll sit on a six-member advisory group that will draw up a short-list of names for submission to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Dominic Leblanc, the federal intergovernmental affairs minister, announced the formation of the group in a news release Friday.

Obed, originally from Nain, Nunatsiavut, is the only Indigenous person to be chosen for the advisory group.

He’s served as ITK president since 2015 and is now mid-way through his second term, having been re-elected in 2018.

Prior to 2015, Obed worked for 10 years as director of social and cultural development at Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.’s Iqaluit office.

The previous Governor General, Julie Payette, quit the position Jan. 21, following a report that alleged she and her administrative head, Assunta Di Lorenzo, had presided over a toxic work environment.

Leblanc will co-chair the advisory group with Janice Charette, who holds the top position in the federal civil service: interim clerk of the privy council.

The other members of the group are:

• Daniel Jutras, rector of Université de Montréal.

• Judith LaRocque, chair of the board of trustees of the Canadian Museum of Nature and former secretary to the Governor General.

• Suromitra Sanatani, interim chair of Canada Post’s board, and a current and former member of multiple corporate boards.

Friday’s announcement suggests Leblanc doesn’t want the group to waste any time getting down to work.

“Recognizing the unique nature of the situation and understanding that the position of Governor General needs to be filled on an expedited basis, the members of the advisory group have agreed to work quickly,” Leblanc stated in the news release.

The Governor General is the representative of Canada’s head of state, Queen Elizabeth II, and performs the Queen’s duties in Canada, such as giving royal assent to bills passed by Parliament.

Since Payette’s departure, Richard Wagner, chief justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, has been performing the Governor General’s duties on an interim basis.

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(41) Comments:

  1. Posted by Not Impressed on

    Natan has never done anything but exist inside the coddled bubble of Inuit Land Claims Organizations. I really fail to see what experience he brings to the table on this file.
    With only six people on the panel, we should be seeing appointments with more depth and less optics.

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    • Posted by Optical Illusion on

      Under more typical circumstances looking for greater depth would be the most desirable thing to do, in reality though, this position exists largely for ceremony and optics. Granted, there are a few circumstances when the GG might need to apply actual wisdom, it doesn’t happen very often though.

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    • Posted by Artie on

      ITK is a good place for him. The org doesn’t accomplish much aside from rant on about systemic racism & whine about football teams’ names. Incidentally, neither activity addresses the horrific housing crisis & social injustices that persist in Nunavut. Btw. Should make Tanya Gillis GG… she wd bring some levity & fun to the position😎

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      • Posted by Artie on

        Thank u N-NEWS for editing & deleting excerpts from my original comment. It reads better now I guess for the ‘cancel culture’. I am a 1/2 White/Inuit person who really wishes comments were posted in their entirety. It suckz! reading edited chit!

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      • Posted by We the people on

        Should turn this into a ” Reality TV show ” and call it , The hunt for the next govenor general, Nate can be one of the judges

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    • Posted by Joan Goudie on

      As I read the comments about Nathan and his appointment, I am flabbergasted. We think the white man is the worst enemy, but looking at these messages it would seem we can tear our own down without their help.
      Nathan represents our young and how we want better for them. He is the Inuit voice in Ottawa. He has learned to play the game, and that’s exactly what politics is, a game. We should be proud we have someone the government puts trust in to act on behalf of “ALL of CANADA” in this decision.
      Where do these comments come from, actual concern about making the best decision or jealously. From where I sit, seems jealously. That’s sad.

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      • Posted by Warren Moon on

        You should also consider that Nattan alienated a lot of Inuit with his action on the name of the Edmonton Eskimos. A sizable portion, quite possibly a small majority, saw him as out of touch with what they wanted. They also saw it as frivolous, unsubstantive non-sense, especially when contrasted with the more serious issues faced in the north, which Nattan hasn’t seemed to have done anything about. Even worse, the issue of the Eskimo name was genuinely construed as a move to improve the life of Inuit. It’s not hard to understand some of the sentiments that have followed from all of that, yes many are on display here.

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  2. Posted by Impressed on

    Great news! Nathan has a great education and has had top positions that are very demanding and working with different levels of organization and Governments and now in the national level.
    Finally having some representation in helping to choose a GG should open the door in other positions too.
    Obviously some do not know you yet but some of these nay sayers will find out more about you.
    Proud of you Natan!

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    • Posted by Tell us more on

      I’m sincerely curious, what has Natan ever done that was very demanding?

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      • Posted by SA on

        I could tell you but I have a feeling it would still not be good enough for you, so why don’t you tell us with all your wisdom who you think would be better to sit on the advisory group?

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    • Posted by eskimo joe on

      Natan is the salt of the earth, unlike those who only see only negative things. eons ago I worked under this young man at NTI, I was at the Disability Dept in it’s infancy. good for you Natan, you will do good. Wishing you the best in all your future endeavors.

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  3. Posted by Uvanga on

    Why would an Inuk be involved in chosing a person who represents the Queen. Colonization has hurt us up to this date. He should be asking to take away that position all together.

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    • Posted by iThink on

      Perhaps not all indigenous people feel the way you do about the structure of the Canadian state? It seems possible not everyone wants to focus their energy on tearing everything down. I would suggest this is a more mature constituency than yours.

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    • Posted by Samuel Smith on

      Preach! It should be an indigenous position not a representative of a foreign monarchy

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    • Posted by Word to the wise on

      To quote the venerable American Political Scientist, Wilfred Reilly:

      “Healthy societies do not destroy all of their institutions to appease tiny groups of revolutionaries.

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  4. Posted by Alex on

    Having a National Inuit leader a indigenous person on the advisory group must rub some people the wrong way, very quick to try and diminish Natan for whatever reason.
    Need to loosen your Make Canada great again cap, it’s a little too tight.

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    • Posted by False Reality on

      I doubt it rubs anyone the “wrong” way. This is just made up non-sense.

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  5. Posted by Paul Fraser on

    Natan …. Your appointment represents a surprisingly good decision on the part of our federal government. You will serve Inuit and all Canadians conscientiously, competently and exceedingly well. We are all benefited by your acceptance of this important assignment. Some Canadians may not know you but there are many of us who appreciate your patient and thoughtful approach when responding to issues of a sensitive nature. We also understand that you respect the values of past leaders such as the late and great former President of ITC Jose Kusugak who was referenced January 19, 2011 in Nunatsiaq News regarding the contribution Inuit make to Canada’s fabric. “Using skills honed as an educator, broadcaster and savvy politician, he used four words, to define the Inuit within Canada. “First Canadians — Canadians First.””

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    • Posted by Isn’t It Ironic on

      And yet the Queen isn’t Canadian. She is a foreign head of state. Her representatives, such as the GG, are largely expensive symbols. We know systemic racism exists in the monarchy, and many commonwealth nations are moving to becoming a Republic. There is no reason why Canada can’t follow suit. I don’t understand how Loyalist sentiment still exists.

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      • Posted by Alanis Morrisette on

        Ironically, I sometimes I wonder if people know what the word ‘systemic’ actually means? (Wait, that’s not what ironic means either).

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      • Posted by Paul Fraser on

        Ah … and yet Nunavut’s Inuk Commissioner who represents the Queen is Canadian and Nunavut, created through an agreement negotiated between Inuit and the Queen, remains part of the Commonwealth. Have we abandon the Commonwealth? No! Are we likely to abandon the Commonwealth before the new GG is appointed? No! So why exclude a competent well respected Inuk from the selection committee.

  6. Posted by Samuel Smith on

    Remind me again why governor general is even a thing anymore? Why isn’t it an indigenous position? It isn’t the Queen’s land we live on..

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    • Posted by Queen on

      Because Canada is still part of the Commonwealth that’s why.

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    • Posted by Northern Guy on

      Actually if you happen to be one if the few who reside on Crown Land anywhere in Canada then technically you are living on land that belongs to the Queen in right of the Parliament of Canada.

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      • Posted by Karen Elizabeth Baker-Anderson on

        Actually, you are living on Indigenous land

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    • Posted by Northern Guy on

      Canada is a constitutional monarchy. The British sovereign remains Canada’s head of state. That is why we require a Governour General, to fulfill the constitutional role of the monarchy, in absentia.

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  7. Posted by Silas on

    I am very pleased to see an Inuk taking part in deciding the Queen’s representative in Canada. This tells me the level of the federal government’s will to right the wrong done to indigenous peoples of Canada. A patient and thoughtful person has been deemed suitable to aid in deciding a high level government appointment.
    Inuit should be proud of this accomplishment; it is a recognition of the highest order in this country. Congratulations Natan.

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  8. Posted by Forever Amazed on

    JT took it upon himself to ignore the protocol that had been in place to appoint a GG and appointed the previous GG – which turned out to be a disaster. Which, quite frankly, is not surprising. Why should I believe that the current process is going to produce anything better?

    Natan was parked at ITK. He really has nothing substantial to show for himself – hence, I agree with a lot of the comments above.

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  9. Posted by River habitants on

    Only one thing is sure —- British rule and law. All Canada goes by. Stay Happy Inuit , we remain isolated on our lands and away from the southern population- we all live under the monarchy No matter what or where we live in Canada . Maybe till we have a KING

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  10. Posted by Justine on

    Really Justin? OMG those who hate colonialism will recommend the appointment of the next GG, I know who I will vote for next time!

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  11. Posted by Inuk on

    It would be great to see an Inuk Appointed to the GG Seat. Lets say Mary May Simon? I think it’s best for Canada to have an Inuk GG.

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    • Posted by iThink on

      It’s definitely time that an indigenous person became GG

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      • Posted by eskimo joe on

        who says, kimo sabi? I am surprise I am still able to remember and defend my ethnicity after all those years as federal day schools, residential school days, I am now supposed to be new eskimo at my old age but I guess I do not listen to new doctrine, never had and can’t change my genes…I do know we all bleed red blood regardless of skin color; sorry to burst the bubble Canada.

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    • Posted by Karen Elizabeth Baker-Anderson on

      Mary would be such a great choice!

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  12. Posted by Kanayuq on

    Way to go Natan, its always a great learning and being part of these BIG GIANT EVENTS with BIG SHOTS! I so enjoyed sharing “The High Arctic” Conferences and yes, it does take TIME..and happy you will be part of Choosing who should get the title for Governor General.

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  13. Posted by DS on

    Justin Trudeau is entirely capable of appointing a token Inuk as an act of oh so inclusive virtue signaling. Natan Obed will be able to determine if he is being used, whether he will be allowed to actually contribute.

  14. Posted by Chesley on

    The abuse at the hands of the governor and top aid has shown flaws that were missed. Live and learn, the choice Inuit have made in national leader does have merit despite the peanut gallery’s objections.

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