Former governors-general and prime ministers will join their successors in representing Canada at the Queen’s funeral on Monday, in a delegation meant to reflect Canadian society that will also include Indigenous leaders and national celebrities.
As a member of the realm, Canada was granted a larger delegation than many other countries sending representatives to the Queen’s state funeral.
The Prime Minister’s Office released the names of the 19 delegates who will represent Canada, just hours after Justin Trudeau and opposition leaders paid tribute to the Queen in the House of Commons.
Canada’s delegation will join the approximately 2,000 VIPs attending the funeral.
The delegation will include Mr. Trudeau, Governor-General Mary Simon and former prime ministers Kim Campbell, Jean Chrétien, Paul Martin and Stephen Harper. Former governors-general Michaëlle Jean and David Johnston will also be attending the service in Britain, as will Olympic champion Mark Tewksbury and actor Sandra Oh.
The leaders of the three groups representing Indigenous people in Canada – Assembly of First Nations National Chief RoseAnne Archibald, President of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami Natan Obed, and President of the Métis National Council Cassidy Caron – will attend.
Indigenous peoples have a unique relationship with the Crown, for example, through signed treaties, which are agreements laying out continuing rights and obligations. As sovereign, Queen Elizabeth acknowledged the Crown-Indigenous relationship during her reign and met often with Indigenous peoples when she visited Canada.
The relationship between Indigenous peoples and the Crown dates back hundreds of years. More than 100 years before Confederation, the Royal Proclamation of 1763 – issued by King George III – formalized the treaty-making process between Indigenous peoples and the Crown.
Centuries of colonial policies, however, led to the mistreatment and oppression of Métis, Inuit and First Nations people. During the Queen’s reign, Indigenous people in Canada were subjected to the abusive residential-schools system and the ‘60s Scoop. Some Indigenous women also underwent forced sterilization and Inuit were relocated against their will.
Ms. Archibald met with then-Prince Charles when he visited Canada in May. She said then that she asked for an apology from the Crown for its failure to uphold its treaty obligations and for the treatment of Indigenous children at residential schools. Ms. Caron also said at the time that the Queen should apologize for the legacy of the institutions, which saw Indigenous children forcibly removed from their homes and culture.
Dakota Kochie, a former chief of staff at the Assembly of First Nations, said the inclusion of the three Indigenous leaders in Canada’s delegation to the funeral “is a strong affirmation” of their special relationship with the Crown.
“While views may differ on the need to have the Crown as part of Canada’s modern social fabric, the Crown has long been a partner in Canada’s road to reconciliation,” Mr. Kochie said.
As Prince of Wales, Charles pointed to Canada as an “exemplar of a country trying to deal with the painful history of past abuses,” said John Fraser, the founding president of the Institute for the Study of the Crown in Canada.
The Canadian delegation also includes members of the Order of Canada: Ms. Oh, Mr. Tewksbury and musician Gregory Charles. In addition, Cross of Valour recipient Leslie Arthur Palmer will represent Canada at the funeral. The Coast Guard’s First Officer Palmer won the decoration for bravery in 2006 for a daring winter rescue off of B.C.’s northern coast.
The four Canadians will take part in a procession of recipients of national honours during the funeral service.
“It is with a heavy heart, but deep appreciation, that we will come together to honour Her Majesty – whose lifetime of public service is an extraordinary example to us all,” Mr. Trudeau said in a press release.
Members of the RCMP and the Canadian Armed Forces will join uniformed personnel from other Commonwealth countries for the service, the Prime Minister’s Office said.
U.S. President Joe Biden and hundreds of other world leaders will be in attendance, as will members of Europe’s royal families. The leaders of Russia, Myanmar, Belarus, Syria, Venezuela and Afghanistan were not invited to the funeral, but the Royal Family’s decision to send an invitation to China has rankled some British members of Parliament.
The Prime Minister’s wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, will also join the delegation, as will Ms. Simon’s husband, Whit Fraser.
Former prime ministers Brian Mulroney and Joe Clark will not be attending the funeral but will attend a national commemorative ceremony for the Queen in Ottawa on Monday. Mr. Mulroney and former governor-general Adrienne Clarkson are to eulogize the Queen at the ceremony.
Absent from the delegation is Julie Payette, who resigned as governor-general under immense pressure and controversy in 2021. Leaders of the federal opposition parties are also not part of the delegation.
With reports from Marsha McLeod, The Canadian Press and Reuters