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Governor General of Canada / Gouverneur général du Canadaa
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Governor General

 

The Right Honourable Jeanne Mathilde Sauv�


The Right Honourable Jeanne Mathilde Sauvé Governor General: 1984 - 1990
Appointed: January 28, 1984
Sworn In: May 14, 1984, Ottawa
Born: April 26, 1922, Prud'homme, Saskatchewan
Died: January 26, 1993

Throughout her distinguished career, the Right Honourable Jeanne Sauv achieved a number of notable 'firsts'. In the House of Commons, she was the first female Cabinet member from Quebec, she was the first woman elected as Speaker of the House of Commons, she opened the first daycare on Parliament Hill, and she was the first woman to serve as Governor General.

Mme Sauv was a staunch advocate of issues surrounding youth and world peace, and the dove of peace is one of the elements incorporated into Madame Sauv's coat-of-arms. Long before her vice-regal mandate, she worked as assistant to the Director of the Youth Secretariat of UNESCO, served as Secretary of the Canadian Committee for the World Assembly of Youth, and initiated and hosted a discussion show for youth. At Rideau Hall, she established two awards for students wishing to enter the field of special education for exceptional children. And at the end of her mandate, she established the Jeanne Sauv Youth Foundation, dedicated to the cause of youth excellence in Canada.

Mme. Sauv's concern for youth and peace were two of the three central themes of her mandate the third was national unity. She travelled extensively, making her role as Governor General a symbol of our common identity accessible to all Canadians. In her installation speech, she spoke about the need for Canadians to forego a narrow sense of their nation and become more tolerant. "This is the price of our happiness," she said, "but happiness will never be found in the spirit of 'every man for himself'."

During Mme Sauv's term of office the United Nations General Assembly declared 1986 as the "International Year of Peace". One initiative developed by the Department of Foreign Affairs and other partners was a publication entitled What Peace Means to Me (Ma vision de la paix). The publication, with a forward written by Mme Sauv, contained essays written by various members of the Order of Canada, as well as the winning essays and posters from a contest sponsored by the United Nations Association in Canada.

In 1986, Mme Sauv accepted on behalf of the 'People of Canada' the Nansen Medal, a prestigious international humanitarian award which is given in recognition of major and sustained efforts made on behalf of refugees. This was the first time since the medal's inception in 1954 that the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees presented it to an entire population. The Nansen Medal is kept at Rideau Hall.

Mme Sauvé's enthusiasm for the value of sports led her to establish the Jeanne Sauvé Trophy for the world cup championship in women's field hockey and the Jeanne Sauvé Cup for the Canadian Ringette Champions. She also created the Jeanne Sauvé Fair Play Award to recognize national amateur athletes who best demonstrate fair play and non-violence in sport. And she encouraged a safer society in Canada by establishing the Governor General's Award for Safety in the Workplace.

During her term as Governor General, Mme Sauv made State visits to Italy, the Vatican, the People's Republic of China, Thailand, where she received an honorary doctorate in political science from the University of Chulalongkorn, Bangkok and to France, where she received the Mdaille de la Chancellerie des universits de Paris, La Sorbonne, Paris. She also made a State visit to Uruguay and Brazil, and to commemorate the Brazil visit the "Governor General Jeanne Sauv Fellowship / Bourse commmorative du gouverneur gnral Jeanne Sauv", an award to be made each year to a Brazilian graduate student in Canadian Studies, was established.

Mme Sauv also received a number of distinguished visitors, including: The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother Prince Andrew, The Duke and Duchess of York, King Carl Gustaf of Sweden and Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, King Hussein of Jordan, Pope John Paul II, U.N. Secretary General Javier Perez de Cullar, U.S. President Ronald Reagan, French President, Franois Mitterrand, Chinese President Li Xiannian; Romanian President Nicolae Ceaucescu, as well as the presidents of Israel, Tanzania, Italy, the People's Republic of the Congo, the Republic of Cameroon, Iceland and the Philippines. As well, in 1988, Mme Sauv met with Mother Teresa of Calcutta at the Citadelle.

She also hosted Prince Edward, who presented the Royal Letters Patent signed by Her Majesty patriating heraldry to Canada, which led to the establishment of the Canadian Heraldic Authority. As the Head of the Canadian Heraldic Authority the Governor General holds the Sovereign's prerogative power and provides for the creation of new heraldic honours in the form of coats of arms, flags, badges and other emblems.

One of her favourite events was the annual Christmas party for the Ottawa Boys and Girls Club and its French counterpart, the Patro d'Ottawa. The children came to Rideau Hall for lunch and a visit with Santa. Mme Sauv personally hosted her young guests and wore a paper party hat to celebrate the special occasion.

During his wife's mandate, M. Maurice Sauv continued to pursue his own business concerns while participating in many Canadian cultural activities.

Life Before and After Rideau Hall

Jeanne Mathilde Benoit studied at Notre-Dame du Rosaire Convent in Ottawa and the University of Ottawa. She was actively involved in student and political affairs, and became the national president of the Young Catholic Students Group at the age of 20. She married the Honourable Maurice Sauv on September 24, 1948 at St-Jean Baptiste Church in Ottawa. Later that same year, they moved to Europe, where she earned a diploma in French civilization at the Universit de Paris. The couple had one child.

Mme Sauv was a founding member of the Institute of Political Research and for over 20 years had a distinguished career as a journalist with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. She was elected as a Liberal member of Parliament for Ahunstic (Montral) in 1972 and was subsequently appointed Minister of State for Science and Technology. She was re-elected in July 1974 and given the environment portfolio. Then, in 1975, she was appointed Minister of Communications with responsibility for French speaking countries in the Department of External Affairs.

After completing her term of office as Governor General in 1990, the Sauvs retired to Montral, where she worked to forward the interests of the Jeanne Sauv Youth Foundation. She died three years later after an extended illness, her husband having pre-deceased her in 1992.

Updated: 2009-04-30
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