Newly sworn in Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau crafted the most diverse federal cabinet in Canadian History. It’s gender equal, it’s ethnically diverse and it features its first Aboriginal Minister of Justice.
What many of us might be unaware of is that the newest ministers in Trudeau’s cabinet have traced riveting paths to earn a spot in Canada’s 23rd cabinet. The new team includes a refugee who fled the Taliban, a former astronaut, and a paralympian medalist.
Here are 10 facts about the latest members of our governing caucus:
1. Maryam Monsef, the new Minister of Democratic Institutions is an Afghan-born refugee who fled the Taliban and embarked on a journey to Canada 20 years ago at the age of 11, along with her widowed mother and two sisters. Her family claimed refugee status in Peterborough.
2. Harjit Singh, Canada’s newest Minister of National Defense was initially rejected from joining the military in 1989. He later went on to become a decorated lieutenant-colonel in the Canadian Armed Forces and also served as a Vancouver police officer for 11 years.
3. Jody Wilson-Raybould was named the first Aboriginal Federal Justice Minister and attorney general in Canadian history. About 30 years ago, her father and former First Nations leader told then Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau that his daughter wanted to become the Prime Minister of Canada. Trudeau responded with “Tell them I’ll stick around until they’re ready.”
4. Canada’s latest Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, Amarjeet Sohi, was accused of terrorism while he was visiting India. He was subsequently arrested and spent 21 months in prison without evidence, where he was beaten and deprived of sleep. When he arrived in Canada, he worked as a bus driver before being elected to Edmonton’s city council.
5. Minister of Sports and Disabilities, Carla Qualtrough, is a legally blind Paralympian medalist and human rights lawyer. She has served on the BC Human Rights Tribunal and the Canadian Human Rights Commission. As an athlete, Carla won three Paralympic medals and four World Championship medals.
6. Hunter Tooto is newest Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard and the second inuk to be appointed as a senior federal cabinet minister. He wore a seal skin tie and bracelet to the swearing-in ceremony.
7. Kirsty Duncan is Canada’s new Minister of Science and also a member of the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change that split the 2007 Nobel peace prize with Al Gore. She previously led an international expedition to study the Spanish flu.
8. Judy Foote, the Minister of Public Services and Procurement has survived cancer twice. She has served as the Member of Parliament for Random–Burin–St. George’s since 2008.
9. Canada’s newest Minister of Transport, Marc Garneau, made history by becoming the first Canadian astronaut to fly in space. In 1989 Marc was named Deputy Director of the Canadian Astronaut Program, and helped with preparation of experiments for future Canadian missions.
10. The new Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Ralph Goodale, is the only cabinet minister to have worked with both Justin Trudeau and his father, Pierre Elliott. He was first elected to parliament at the mere age of 24 years old.