Former Astronaut To Be Canada’s Next Governor-General

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Julie Payette, 2006. Image: NASA

Julie Payette will be Canada’s next Governor-General, replacing David Johnston. She will start her new job on October 2.

Payette, 53, is a former astronaut, who spent more than 25 days in space. She speaks six languages. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering and a Master’s degree in Applied Science. And she was a successful science broadcaster and a businesswoman working for IBM, Bell-Northern Research and the Montreal Science Centre, where she was the CEO (top person).

Payette was one of four astronauts chosen from a field of 5,330 back in June 1992, according to the informational website Wikipedia.

The Governor-General of Canada is the country’s link to the Queen of England. The Governor-General is appointed by Queen Elizabeth II on a recommendation from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Payette’s role will be to represent the Queen and Canada at events such as military ceremonies and in foreign countries. Also, when certain Acts of Parliament are passed, it is the Governor-General who obtains the Queen’s signature. The Governor-General also presents medals and awards.

David Johnston has been the Governor-General since 2010. Usually the role lasts about five years, although technically they serve “at the pleasure of the Queen,” meaning that the Queen decides how long the term will be. Canadian Governors-General traditionally alternate between a French-speaking and an English-speaking person. David Johnston is English speaking; Julie Payette is French-speaking.

The role of Governor-General used to be more hands-on, but in modern Canada it is largely a ceremonial role–although still one of the country’s highest offices.

Payette will be Canada’s 29th Governor-General. Until she is “sworn in” on Parliament Hill early next month, her title is Governor-General Designate. Just before she is sworn in, she will have a private meeting with Queen Elizabeth II and she will be “briefed”– given a lot of information important for her job.

Related Links
Learn more about the role of the G-G in TKN’s article about David Johnston, when he was appointed in 2010.

You can write to the Governor-General through this website: https://www.gg.ca/index.aspx

There are lots of in-class activities and educational resources about the Governor-General here: https://www.gg.ca/document.aspx?id=14610&lan=eng

Learn more about Julie Payette here. (And there’s a lot more to learn about her, by the way–for instance, she has 27 honourary doctorate degrees and is an Officer of the Order of Canada. The list of her distinctions is lengthy.

CURRICULUM CONNECTIONS
By Kathleen Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt
Payette speaks six languages: French and English, as well as some Spanish, German, Italian and Russian. How will this help her in her new job?

Since Canada is a bilingual country do you think the Governor-General should speak both English and French?

Reading Prompt: Extending Understanding
Find out more about Governors-General here. List three things they do.

David Johnston was the Governor-General since 2010. Do some research on the internet to find out at least 3 things that he did in his role.

Based on this information, what are a few things that Julie Payette might do in her new role?

Junior
Extend understanding of texts by connecting the ideas in them to their own knowledge, experience, and insights, to other familiar texts, and to the world around them (OME, Reading: 1.6).

Intermediate
Extend understanding of texts, including increasingly complex or difficult texts, by connecting the ideas in them to their own knowledge, experience, and insights, to other familiar texts, and to the world around them (OME, Reading: 1.6).

Language Feature:
In the related links section (see above), there is a link to write to the Governor-General. After reading the article, what questions do you have for Payette or about the role in general? Write a brief note using a letter format.