Canada’s newest Governor General, Julie Payette, arrived to a flurry of snow and handshakes Tuesday morning as she stepped off the tarmac in Yellowknife for her first official visit to the Northwest Territories in her new role.
NWT Commissioner Margaret Thom, Brig.-Gen. Mike Nixon, commander of Joint Task Force North (JTFN), and more than 60 soldiers were among those who greeted her at the JTFN hangar, where she was saluted before inspecting the troops row by row.
“It’s always an honour and a pleasure to have your commander-in-chief visit,” said Nixon. “I know that she has been in the North personally before on several occasions, but this is her first time in the North as our commander-in-chief.”
Payette’s day in Yellowknife was a stop on a longer journey to Tuktoyaktuk, where she is set to attend the grand opening of the all-season highway connecting the coastal community to Inuvik on Wednesday.
But before that, the Governor General followed a jam-packed schedule in the territorial capital that included private meetings with NWT Premier Bob McLeod, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly Jackson Lafferty, Yellowknives Dene First Nation Chief Edward Sangris.
In the early afternoon, Yellowknife Mayor Mark Heyck welcomed Payette into his office at city hall where they chatted briefly about her visit before the meeting was closed to media.
She was also scheduled to take part in talks with community members on sustainability in the North and later deliver a speech during a dinner with the premier and JTFN.
“The first thing I’ll be saying is how extremely proud I am of the Canadian Armed Forces who are stationed here in the North,” said Nixon about what he planned to discuss with the Governor General on Tuesday. “And also to just to let her know the breadth of activities we take part in over the course of a year and some of the strong relationships we’ve built.”
The fragility of infrastructure in the North and the challenges presented by the vastness of the territories were also on his list of talking points, he said.
“But it primarily will be a thanking her for taking time to come and see us and a chance for us to tell her what the Canadian Armed Forces do in the North,” said Nixon.
Payette is expected to meet with local leaders in Inuvik on Wednesday morning before driving the new road to Tuktoyaktuk for its inauguration.
A number of territorial and federal officials are expected to attend.
The Governor General was unavailable to speak to media Tuesday.