Hair Idol: Michaëlle Jean

Michaëlle Jean
image source: A Celebration of Women

This week’s Hair Idol was requested by you! Meet Michaëlle Jean, journalist, documentary film maker, stateswomen, and Governor General of Canada from 2005-2010. Jean’s family came to Canada as refugees from Haiti in 1968 and lived in Quebec. Jean received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Italian and Hispanic languages and literature and her Master of Arts in comparative literature from the University of Montreal.

In 1988 she hosted news programs and affairs probrams like Actuel, Montréal ce soir, Virages, and Le Point for Radio-Canada and she was the first person of Caribbean descent to be seen on French television news in Canada. In 1999 she started hosting The Passionate Eye and Rough Cuts, which both broadcast the best in Canadian and foreign documentary films. And in 2004 she got her own show titled Michaëlle. While all of this was going on, she and her husband made several films including the award winning Haïti dans tous nos rêves (“Haiti in All Our Dreams”).

She was appointed governor general by Queen Elizabeth II, on the recommendation of Prime Minister Paul Martin in 2005. This appointment made her a lot of firsts and fews, so many in fact I’m only going to list some of them here: She was the first governor general of Caribbean origin, the third woman, the fourth former journalist, and one of the few to have neither a political nor military background. Last but not least, she was the first representative of Queen Elizabeth II to have been born during the latter’s reign.

When she left her position, the Michaëlle Jean Foundation was established by the federal Crown-in-Council to focus on promoting education, culture, and creativity among youth from rural, northern, and/or poor communities in Canada. The same year, she became the special envoy to Haiti for the United Nations’ Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. In 2011 she  was appointed Grand Témoin de la Francophonie for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, England. And the next year she started her term as Chancellor of the University of Ottawa.
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