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Politics

New Sask. lieutenant-governor to focus on strengthening children

ussell Mirasty and his wife Donna about to enter the legislative chamber for his installation as Saskatchewan's 23rd lieutenant-governor.
ussell Mirasty and his wife Donna about to enter the legislative chamber for his installation as Saskatchewan's 23rd lieutenant-governor. David Baxter / Global News

Saskatchewan’s 23rd lieutenant-governor, Russell Mirasty, was formally installed Thursday in a ceremony as the Queen’s representative in the province.

Mirasty was officially sworn in as lieutenant-governor in August. Prior to his retirement, spent 36 years as an RCMP member, concluding his career as commanding officer for RCMP in Saskatchewan.

READ MORE: Russell Mirasty officially sworn in as 23rd Saskatchewan lieutenant-governor

He is the first Indigenous person to occupy that role in addition to being the first First Nations lieutenant-governor in Saskatchewan.

Mirasty plays a central role in the function of government, including giving legislation royal assent so passes into law.

He won’t have a direct role in shaping public policy, but like his predecessors, there will be areas he focuses on while meeting with leaders during his five-year term. For Mirasty, his main focus will be education.

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“I see there are a lot of challenges that are still out there at the community level and as I worked through my career and some of the work that I’ve done since I left the RCMP, I started to focus on education being key in terms of a real building block for people,” Mirasty said.

The focus on education goes beyond the classroom in Mirasty’s view. He said many barriers that need to be addressed exist outside the classroom.

“We look at the health of people, in particular, mental health. That also is important for me on a personal level, but professionally as well I’ve seen how it affects people,” Mirasty said.

”They go hand in hand. If young people are facing these kinds of health and mental health obstacles it prevents them from being successful in the education system.”

When he’s not travelling, Mirasty will split his time between Regina and his hometown of La Ronge. This also makes him the most northern person to serve as the province’s lieutenant-governor.

This northern perspective will inform Mirasty’s other key area of focus as he settles into his new role.

“The other piece that really is of interest to me, particularly with Indigenous and northern communities is to make sure that young people don’t lose who they are because that’s what makes a person strong,” he said.

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“Understanding and accepting who you are and how that enables you to be strong as you look into the future. So the culture and identity, particularly for Indigenous people is very important, and again that ties to young people and how they see themselves and how they see themselves fit into this bigger, complicated world.”

READ MORE: Retired assistant RCMP commissioner named new Sask. lieutenant-governor

The installation ceremony follows regal protocol, a formal ceremony at the legislative building followed by an honour guard inspection and military procession.

Ahead of the ceremony, Mirasty brought his cultural identity to government house. He met with a number of chiefs and a pipe ceremony was performed.

“I look at it as an enhancement of the whole process. It’s never been done before is my understanding of the pipe ceremony, but it’s important to me in terms of who I am and how we start the day in a way that recognizes and really brings to the forefront who I am and what I bring to this office — my perspective, my background,” Mirasty explained.

The new lieutenant-governor is also looking forward to visiting new parts of the province, as travel is a major part of the job.

Once he was appointed the commanding officer for the Saskatchewan RCMP, he made a point of visiting every detachment in the province. However, he never made it to Kerrobert. So, he plans on paying that detachment an overdue visit.

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Outside of the policing world, he’s looking to take in two of Saskatchewan’s natural wonders — Grassland National Park and the Great Sandhills.

“Only just for my own satisfaction, to say I’ve seen these beautiful parts of the province. But I never get tired of going to places, even if it’s the third or fourth or fifth time. I’m always amazed at the beauty of this province, the diversity, and the people that work around the province,” he said.

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