His Excellency Jean-Daniel Lafond, C.C.
Role of the spouse of the governor general
The spouse of the governor general plays a tangible role in carrying out the mandate of the governor general of Canada. The spouse’s efforts enrich the influence of Canada’s oldest public institution.
The spouse of the governor general takes part in official ceremonies and national celebrations such as the opening of Parliament, Order of Canada investiture ceremonies and official ceremonies such as Canada Day. The spouse welcomes foreign dignitaries and plays an active role in the governor general’s visits to each of the provinces and territories at the beginning of the term, and in State visits abroad.
The spouse is accorded the same precedence as the governor general and is also designated His or Her Excellency while in office. He is also granted membership in the Order of Canada at the level of Companion, and is designated a knight of the Order of St. John.
Over the years, a number of spouses have pursued important projects that have advanced the well-being of our society. This is certainly true in the case of His Excellency Jean-Daniel Lafond, who, since his arrival at Rideau Hall, the governor general’s official residence in Ottawa, has steadfastly supported his wife, the Governor General of Canada, Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, in her efforts to “break down solitudes”.
Areas of involvement of His Excellency Jean-Daniel Lafond, C.C.
Mr. Lafond has directed his passion and ideas towards the institution of the governor general and to the Canadian people. Since his arrival, and with the objective of enriching national dialogue, he has enthusiastically embarked on two ambitious projects: Art Matters and the Citizen Voices Web site.
Their Excellencies wished to create a space for reflection and dialogue that would be held in conjunction with ceremonies honouring and celebrating Canadian artistic talent. To reach this goal, Mr. Lafond launched a series of forums, entitled Art Matters, which provide exciting opportunities to bring together laureates, artists, academics, administrators and members of the public to observe and discuss the challenges related to culture in our society. Over 30 Art Matters forums have been held at Rideau Hall, during visits to the provinces and territories, and during official visits abroad.
Citizen Voices (www.citizenvoices.gg.ca)
This new Web site was launched in September 2006, on the occasion of a live chat with the Governor General, on the first anniversary of her installation. An innovative and dynamic tool, it allows people to communicate easily, expand their networks and connect with Rideau Hall.
This site came about as Mr. Lafond and a team of young and enthusiastic collaborators started thinking about creating tools for fostering debate and dialogue.
Citizen Voices has become a platform to sound off on a variety of topics and issues, such as citizen engagement, youth, women and the arts. Visitors have had the opportunity to read blogs by their Excellencies and by guest bloggers; to participate in online forums; and even follow the Governor General as she concluded her official visits to Canadian provinces and territories, and visited foreign countries, such as France in May 2008. During State visits to African countries, Brazil and Europe, the Governor General blogged about her experiences, while members of the delegation contributed with daily dispatches. Visitors were also invited to tune in to live webcasts of events and key speeches, as well as video blogs.
Canada’s Francophone community
Canada has a unique relationship and place within la Francophonie. During visits across Canada, His Excellency has taken part in numerous meetings on the state of the extended family of French speakers in Canada. During the summer and fall of 2008, he welcomed participants of Cap sur les ports francophones at the Citadelle, the Residence of the Governor General in the City of Québec. This international event was organized in collaboration with the Agence universitaire de la Francophonie. He also hosted an international colloquium on Marie de l’Incarnation, the first female writer of New France, particulary an epistle writer. Several Art Matters forums were dedicated to la Francophonie, particularly those held in Bordeaux in May, and in Montréal in October.
The 400th anniversary of the founding of the City of Québec in 2008
Mr. Lafond has worked closely with the Société du 400e de Québec, the Comité d’organisation français du 400e anniversaire de la ville de Québec, and with the French cities of La Rochelle and Rochefort and the municipality of Royan in France to propose programming at the Citadelle in connection with the celebrations. At the same time, he supervised the renovations of the Redoubt—the first defence structure built on the original site of the Citadelle during the 17th century, under the French regime—and turned it into a museum dedicated to Champlain, to the French regime, and to the office of the governor general.
In the spring and summer of 2008, the Residence of the Governor General at the Citadelle hosted activities and colourful exhibitions. Le Grand Livre de Champlain, a compilation of the notes, maps and engravings of this great explorer, was officially installed in the Redoubt, and has become an important focal point. This larger-than-life work of art is a gift to the Canadian people from the cities of La Rochelle and Rochefort and the Agglomération Royan Atlantique, in France.