Haitian Refugee Canada’s New Governor General

Canada’s new unelected head of state is, oddly enough, a Haitian refugee.

Canada Swears in New Governor General

Queen Elizabeth II’s new representative in Canada, a refugee from Haiti, was sworn in Tuesday as the nation’s 27th governor general in a ceremony steeped in British tradition and Canadian color.

Michaelle Jean is the first black person and only the third woman to hold the largely ceremonial post as head of state, designed to defend Canada’s sovereignty and promote its national identity.

The 48-year-old journalist and documentary filmmaker, whose family fled dictatorship in Haiti when she was 11, is among the youngest to hold the office.

“It is with tremendous pride and deep emotion that I am responding today to the call of destiny, which sometimes takes us in a direction you might never have imagined,” Jean told members of Parliament and other dignitaries in the opulent Senate chambers on Parliament Hill.

“I am turning a significant page in my own story as I set off on this new adventure with hope and determination.”

Jean’s husband, French-born Quebec filmmaker Jean-Daniel Lafond and their 6-year-old adopted daughter, Marie-Eden, who was born in Haiti, applauded when Jean took the oath of office.

The ceremony included the traditional protocol of Canada’s British past — including military honors — as well as performances by Canadian entertainers.

Jean, who is required to speak Canada’s two national languages, French and English, is also fluent in Spanish, Italian and Haitian Creole. Her personal coat of arms shows two black mermaids blowing conch shells under the motto “Briser Les Solitudes” — breaking down solitudes.

I suppose having an appointed Haitian fill the post is no more odd than a Brit who happened to be born into royalty. Certainly, Jean’s credentials are more impressive than strange women lyin’ in ponds distributin’ swords in some farcical aquatic ceremony.

crosspost from sda

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Lost Budgie says:

    Canada’s New Governor General, Michaelle Jean, and her husband, Jean-Daniel Lafond, could have hired anyone to build a library in their home – but they chose to hire convicted FLQ terrorist Jacques Rose.

    THREE QUESTIONS for Canada’s New Governor General, Michaelle Jean…

    1/ Of all the available carpenters, why did you choose convicted FLQ terrorist Jacques Rose to build your library?

    2/ Does the bookcase have a secret compartment to hold guns as reported in the media? (English translation here)

    3/ Will you be using your FLQ terrorist-built library for Official Functions?