The Canadian Press
OTTAWA–“Through hardship to the stars” is the motto that will guide Julie Payette, the former astronaut who was sworn in yesterday as Canada’s newest Governor General.
Those words are in the Latin “Per Aspera Ad Astra” on a new coat of arms designed to capture Payette’s essence as a scientist, mother, and music lover.
Payette, 53, urged Canadians to discover their own strength to help others as she spoke without written notes after being installed as the 29th person to represent the Queen in Canada.
Payette, the first Canadian to work aboard the International Space Station and the the second Canadian woman to go into outer space, told an audience of dignitaries and invited guests that Canadians can “truly move mountains” to tackle serious issues such as climate change, poverty, migration, and nuclear threats.
She also issued a tongue-in-cheek apology as she briefly relied on space references in making her point that Canadians can achieve miracles if they work together because they are all connected in one way or another.
“We are inextricably bound by the same space-time continuum,” Payette said as she stood in front of the Senate’s red throne.
“And, sorry, but we’re all on board the same planetary spaceship.”
Surrounded by dignitaries including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, his cabinet colleagues, indigenous leaders, and about 400 invited guests, Payette was sworn into the mainly ceremonial position by Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin of the Supreme Court of Canada.
Payette swore the oaths of allegiance of the Governor General and commander-in-chief of Canada, and of the Keeper of the Great Seal of Canada.
After the oaths, cannons outside the Parliament Building crashed out a 21-gun salute, which could be heard inside.
Payette spoke directly to indigenous leaders in the chamber in praising their generosity and courage through history, and heralding the government’s attempts at reconciliation with the people who taught Canada’s ancestors how to survive the cold and appreciate the gifts of nature.
“It is a good thing that we finally decided again to listen to their wisdom,” she said.
“We have to achieve reconciliation for the well-being of our communities and for our children,” she added, speaking in Algonquin.