Lieutenant Governor Russell Mirasty spoke about identity, mental health and education at a Rotary Club luncheon at the Coronet Hotel on Monday.
Mirasty also made stops at École Holy Cross and Carlton Comprehensive High School on Monday to speak to students.
After his son Matthew—a member of the Rotary Club of Prince Albert—introduced him, Mirasty stepped up to the podium. He was wearing a bright orange shirt underneath his jacket for Orange Shirt Day.
He began by explaining what his role entails being the Saskatchewan representative for the Queen.
It includes signing off on laws, cabinet shuffles and new members to the cabinet.
Mirasty then answered a few common questions he gets asked as the new lieutenant governor. He was announced to fill the position in July after Thomas Molloy’s passing to cancer.
One of the commonly asked questions is what he wants to support in his new role. Mirasty’s answer mostly focused on identity.
“Sometimes we’re reluctant to speak about who we are, where we come from and what we think this country needs,” he said.
Mirasty explained that he grew up in La Ronge, learning Cree from his grandparents. They did not speak English, but encouraged him to get an education.
Several of his close friends come from different backgrounds, including Ukrainian, Irish and Polish backgrounds, and he’s fascinated to learn more about their cultures.
“We need to come together on that and talk about who we are, what we bring,” emphasized Mirasty.
Another topic he said he wants to support is mental health, particularly Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Mirasty said his passion stems from his time in the RCMP.
“I personally saw how if affected people in the policing world, as well as other first responders. I just know folks that are affected continue to need support, so that’s something that I will do.”
Lastly, he spoke about the importance of education. When he left the RCMP about six years ago, Mirasty said he was part of a Saskatchewan-wide education process with students, teachers and administrators.
“The insightful people and students that we have even at a young age, they know what isn’t working within the system. They know what they need. It was so impressive,” he said.
He also touched on raising the graduation rates of Indigenous students.
Mirasty closed by speaking about making a difference: “Quite simply, it’s that everyone can contribute. Everybody can contribute to this great province, this great country.”
He told a story from when he was visiting a school in Buffalo Narrows last week.
“One of the students asked me ‘Where are you from?’ I said ‘La Ronge.’ And spontaneously this little girl in the corner of the classroom says ‘La Ronge?!’ and it hit her that somebody from the north, from a community like hers, could actually become the lieutenant governor,” he said.
Mirasty concluded by bringing greetings from Queen Elizabeth in both English and Cree.