As many of you know, I initially started Covert Ottawa Guy because I am extremely passionate about our great city; the fact that some people jokingly refer to it as, “the city where fun went to die,” is appalling to me! Not only is Ottawa a vibrant, artistic city, it is also our Nation’s capital. Beyond the festivals, the shows, and its natural beauty, Ottawa is historic, with events of national significance happening every day! I am in awe when I think of the incredible, significant events that have happened here, and immensely proud to call this beautiful city home!
While I often highlight ‘what there is to do in Ottawa today,’ I think it is equally important to acknowledge what happened in Ottawa today. That is, to distinguish the events that may have been less publicized, or were not necessarily open to the public, but nonetheless have great significance, both locally and nationally. We are so lucky to live in the National Capital, and it is my intention, moving forward, to bring to light some of these special events!
On Wednesday, September 24, 2022, Her Excellency the Right Honourable Governor General Simon welcomed to Canada seven new heads of mission in a beautiful ceremony at historic Rideau Hall. When they arrive in Canada, all new heads of mission must present letters of credence to the Governor General prior to undertaking their official duties. Once they have done this, they are accredited as an ambassador or high commissioner of Canada. The following heads of mission presented their credentials to the Governor General this Wednesday:
His Excellency Raul Antonio Montiel Gasto- Ambassador-designate of the Republic of Paraguay
His Excellency Fitsum Arega Gebrekidan- Ambassador-designate of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
His Excellency Kaha Imnadze- Ambassador-designate of Georgia
His Excellency Margus Rava- Ambassador-designate of the Republic of Estonia
His Excellency Ahmed Abdallah Ibrahim Hafez- Ambassador-designate of the Arab Republic of Egypt
His Excellency Michel Miraillet- Ambassador-designate of the French Republic, and
His Excellency Georgios Ionnides- High-Commissioner-designate of the Republic of Cyprus.
From start to finish, the ceremony was lovely. The ballroom in which it was held was stunning: the flags of the Nations presenting credentials lined the wall, flanked by two Canadian flags. Each element of the ceremony, from the music, to the décor, appeared to have been meticulously planned, ensuring that attention to detail, precedence, protocol, and formality underlay each decision. The Canadian Armed Forces Central Band’s Serenade of Strings provided a harmonious backdrop of classical music as guests arrived. Shortly after, the Heads of Mission entered, preceded by two members of the Governor General’s Foot Guards. Lastly, her Excellency Governor General Simon arrived.
Her Excellency began her welcome speech with the acknowledgement that guests were gathered at Rideau Hall, which sits on the unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinabe people. Personally, this is my favourite part of events that I attend: the recognition that the land that we are so lucky to live, work and play on, and perhaps sometimes take for granted, is unceded; whenever I hear this, I take a moment to reflect on this fact. I think that it is imperative that we never forget it.
After welcoming the heads of mission, Her Excellency went on to urge them “to learn Canada’s true history, the good and the bad, and learn about Indigenous peoples and diverse communities in Canada.” She went on to discuss global challenges and conflicts, and described the Inuktitut word ajuinnata, which is a promise, or a vow, to never give up. She encouraged the new heads of mission to join in committing themselves “to action, no matter how daunting the cause may be…to persevering against all odds for the good of our citizens and the world.”
The speech was truly moving; a beautiful welcome for Canada’s newest diplomatic visitors.
Heads of Mission were introduced individually; each had an inspiring list of accolades and accomplishments. Each seemed perfectly fit for their new position. They presented their credentials to her Excellence, one by one. Their families were in attendance to celebrate their new positions.
The ceremony ended shortly thereafter. All in all, it was an exciting and special event that truly seemed to celebrate and honour the positive relationship between Canada and each of the countries. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to attend and witness this historic event, to have been able to report on it, and for the kindness I received from everyone at Rideau Hall, who so graciously hosted this event.
*Photographs by Covert Ottawa Guy, additional official photographs to follow!*