Mary Simon

A champion of the social, economic, and human rights of Canadian Inuit people, she shares with the Trudeau Foundation community the experience she acquired in senior leadership positions in various land claims organizations 

Born in Kangiqsualujjuaq, Nunavik, Mary Simon, OC, QC, is known for advancing critical social, economic, and human rights for Canadian Inuit regionally, nationally, and around the world. Over four decades, she has held such senior leadership positions as president of Makivik Corporation (the land claims organization for Inuit of Nunavik), president of the Inuit Circumpolar Council, Canadian ambassador for circumpolar affairs, and Canadian ambassador to the Kingdom of Denmark. She also led Canada’s negotiations during the creation of the eight-nation Arctic Council in the mid-1990s: the Council includes the Indigenous peoples of the circumpolar region as permanent participants. More recently, Ms. Simon was the president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, Canada’s national Inuit organization, for six years.

Ms. Simon is presently the chairperson of the National Committee on Inuit Education. In this capacity, her mandate is to implement a comprehensive national strategy aimed at improving Inuit educational standards and achievements. 

Mary Simon is an Officer of the Order of Canada and a recipient of the Gold Order of Greenland.  Her other distinctions include seven honorary doctorates from Canadian universities and service as the chancellor of Trent University. In 2013, the Famous Five recognized Mary Simon as one of three great nation builders from Canada’s Arctic. 

  • August 5, 2016
    2014 mentor Mary Simon, a longtime Inuit leader, has been appointed as a special representative to the Minister of Indigenous Affairs and Northern Development, Carolyn Bennett. In this role she will advise the Federal government about the spending needs of the Arctic. She plans to consult and include Northern communities and First Nations groups to ensure that they have a say in the design and operations of any projects that affect them.