Saskatchewan’s first Indigenous lieutenant-governor was sworn in Thursday at a ceremony in Government House in Regina.
Russell Mirasty held a black Bible and stood before Chief Justice Robert Richards to swear allegiance to Queen Elizabeth II, before taking his oath of office.
He promised to “duly and impartially” execute his new role, a largely ceremonial but constitutionally significant position representing the Queen in the province .
Mirasty was a 36-year veteran of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. He made history in 2010, when he became the first Indigenous person to head a provincial RCMP division.
Premier Scott Moe said Mirasty has made history again . A member of the Lac La Ronge Indian Band, he follows 22 vice-regal predecessors from settler backgrounds.
“This is a historic day for our nation, but most certainly for the province of Saskatchewan,” Moe said.
“I think it’s very significant of where we are as a nation, where we are as a province.”
Mirasty agreed that his Indigenous identity will be meaningful in terms of how he conducts himself in his new role, and that it’s personally important for him.
He said he felt the “tremendous responsibility of the office” during the ceremony. After the formalities, he kissed his wife Donna and embraced his granddaughter Grace. He said his family seemed even more excited than he was.
He has a simple interpretation of what his oaths compel him to do.
“I will do the best job that I can,” he said.
His job will include assenting to legislation, signing Orders in Council and dissolving or proroguing the legislature. In virtually all cases, he’ll make those decisions as a formality, according to the advice of the premier and cabinet.
Despite that constitutional reality, Moe said he’s “not one to give advice” to someone with Mirasty’s history of service. Rather, he’d prefer to take advice.
He was referring to another important role of the lieutenant-governor: sitting down with the premier in an informal capacity to act as a private sounding board. Moe said it’s “incumbent” on him to do that.
“I look forward to working with Mr. Mirasty in an official role, but also in unofficial conversations, leaning on some of his experience, if we can, for the benefit of the government and the people of the province, much in the same way as we had the opportunity to do with the previous LG, the late Thomas Molloy,” Moe said.
Mirasty will also preside over ceremonies and confer awards, including to first responders. Given his service with the RCMP, he acknowledged that will have a “special meaning” for him.
Moe wouldn’t comment in detail about the process that led to Mirasty’s selection by the federal government, or whether the province was sufficiently consulted. He said he believes that the process is “strong.”
“I think if you look at the lieutenant-governors that have been appointed in this province over the course of the last number of years, irrespective of who is the prime minister, we’ve been very fortunate with the level of quality of character of people that have served this province,” said Moe.
“We look forward to more of the same with Mr. Mirasty.”
Mirasty was born and raised in La Ronge, where he still has a home. He said he’ll split his time between there and Regina.
Moe, who lives in Shellbrook, celebrated what might be another first: a premier and a lieutenant-governor both from north of Saskatoon.
“Maybe we’ll have the opportunity to do some fishing together in some of Saskatchewan’s great northern lakes,” said Moe.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019