First Indigenous Lieutenant Governor makes Saskatchewan history

Russell Mirasty receiving the Meritorious Service Medal in 2017 (Submitted photo).

Bailey Sutherland, Daily Herald

Saskatchewan’s first Indigenous Lieutenant Governor, Russell Mirasty, was sworn into office Thursday morning at Government House in Regina.

Mirasty, a member of the Lac La Ronge Indian Band who was born and raised in La Ronge, speaks both Cree and English fluently.

After serving for 36 years in the RCMP, he became the first Indigenous person to be appointed as the head of the RCMP for a province when he took over the role of assistant commissioner at the service’s “F” (Saskatchewan) Division in 2010. After retiring from the force in 2013, he has since been doing different types of government work for different sectors, which he believes has helped him prepare for his new role as Lt. Gov.

“I know the province really well, I know communities, I know the regions, and certainly that will help me”, says Mirasty. “I’ve always taken the approach that strong relationships across communities and people are very important in terms of how we look to the future and I think that thought or way of thinking that I hold will certainly help me as we move forward”.

The Lt. Gov. plays an important role in terms of the functioning of the government. Mirasty will sign Orders in Council, assent legislation, and can prorogue or dissolve the legislature. There are rare occasions where the Lt. Gov. can use reserved powers to make a decision against the premier’s advice, but in almost all cases, he will follow the guidance of the cabinet. Mirasty will also do ceremonially work, such as presenting awards and representing the Queen at various events.

The announcement of Prime Minister Trudeau’s decision to appoint Russell Mirasty as Saskatchewan’s Lt. Gov. came on Wednesday morning.

Premier Scott Moe has said he looks forward to working with Mirasty and he believes that, “With a deep connection to Saskatchewan’s Indigenous communities and a background of service with the RCMP, Mr. Mirasty will bring a valuable perspective to a role that has a rich history of service to the people of Saskatchewan”.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau believes that Mr. Mirasty’s connection to communities throughout Saskatchewan made him the best candidate for the position.

““Known as a relationship-builder, Mr. Mirasty is an outstanding leader who paved the way for Indigenous peoples in the national police force,” Trudeau said in a press release. “As Lt. Gov. of Saskatchewan, I know he will continue to make a difference for the people of his province and all Canadians, and inspire others to create change in their communities.”

The province has been without a Lt. Gov. since July 2nd, when the former Lt. Gov. Thomas Molloy passed away after a brief, but courageous battle with pancreatic cancer.

Lt. Gov. Russell Mirasty says that although he was initially in disbelief after being sworn in, he is “just accepting the importance and I look forward to the role [as Lieutenant Governor]. It feels good. It is important for me personally, but also, I think, for the province”.

Chief Tammy Cook-Searson of the Lac La Ronge Indian band has spoken highly of Mirasty and is proud “one of our own” was selected for the role. She believes that he has made history.

“He has bridged a lot of relationships, and he is very effective that way. He is a confident person, very kind, and is a strategic thinker. I think with his experience and his knowledge, he’s going to bring so much to the position of Lt. Gov. We are really blessed, we’re proud of him from our Lac La Ronge Indian Band, and we commend the Prime Minister for appointing Russ Mirasty to be the Lt. Gov. of Saskatchewan”.