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On Thursday, Justin Trudeau announced that in his talks with Queen Elizabeth the week before, she approved of his pick to fill the position of Governor General which will be vacant in September when David Johnson’s seven-year term comes to an end. Their pick for GG is Canada’s second-ever female astronaut (after Roberta Bondar) and all-around cool person, Julie Payette.

 

Payette was chosen for her previous service to Canada in the Canadian Space Agency as well as her work in STEM leadership. With a B.A. in electrical engineering from McGill and a masters in applied science from the University of Toronto, Payette is known for her work in science and technology both in Canada and the United States. After her two space flights, she worked as a scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, was the scientific authority for Quebec in the U.S. and served as the CEO of the Montreal Science Center for a few years. Did someone say ‘female science hero’?

In case you’re not well-versed in the nuances of Canadian government, the Governor General is the Queen’s representative in Canada. Our country is a constitutional monarchy, which means that although we have the appearance of being a democracy where the elected Prime Minister is in charge, Queen Elizabeth is actually the Queen of Canada and has the final say on, well, everything. Since she can’t be here all the time, she is represented by the GG who is selected by the queen with recommendation from the PM. The most important thing the GG does is put the royal seal on all bills that become law. Yes, nothing happens in government without the GG/the queen’s approval. David Johnson has been GG since he was appointed by Stephen Harper in 2010.


Not only was Payette the second Canadian woman in space, she was the first Canadian to visit the International Space Station (yes, even before Chris Hadfield). She was born in Montreal, Quebec and in addition to French and English, speaks Spanish, German, Italian and Russian. She’s been on two trips to the ISS and spent a total of 25 days in space. That’s more than all the other former GGs combined (which is 0).

Fun Fast facts about Julie Payette

You might think the coolest thing about Julie Payette is that she was an astronaut (we have to agree), but that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Canada’s GG-designate. Here are some of the other amazing things we can go crazy about.

  • Talk about multi-talented. Payette also plays piano and has sung with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra and the Tafelmusik Chamber Choir.
  • Payette was one of the eight great Canadians selected to carry the Olympic flag in the opening ceremonies of the Vancouver 2010 Opening Ceremonies. She walked alongside other Canadian icons like Betty Fox (mother of Terry Fox), Donald Sutherland and Bobby Orr.
Julie Payette olympics
Getty Images
  • On her second space mission, Payette brought along a sweater signed by Montreal Canadiens player Maurice ‘The Rocket’ Richard to celebrate the team’s 100th anniversary. Yes, she brought ‘The Rocket’ on a real rocket.
  • There’s a Julie Payette Public School in Whitby, Ontario. Looks like she’s all set when it comes to having things named after her.
  • She’s listed as a champion of the Trans Canada Trail for her contributions to the Canada-wide project.

We can’t wait to see what Payette will do with her new position of influence in Canada. We can only assume it will be something sciency and amazing!

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