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Gov. Gen. Mary May Simon takes first international trip, including honour at world’s largest trade book fair

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TORONTO —
Gov. Gen. Mary May Simon set out on her first international trip in that position on Sunday, heading to Germany to meet with officials, as well as attend the world’s largest trade book fair.

May Simon, who became the 30th Governor General of Canada in July, will be visiting Berlin and Frankfurt until Thursday, and will represent Canada at the 2021 Frankfurt Book Fair, where Canada is this year’s Guest of Honour.

“Canada and Germany are connected by both our diversity and our shared values. The Governor General’s State visit to Germany will reinforce Canada’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, climate and the environment, women and youth empowerment, and reconciliation,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a press release.

“Her Excellency’s participation at the Frankfurt Book Fair will be an opportunity to highlight and celebrate Canadian cultural and literary works internationally.”

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During the trip May Simon will also meet with the President of of Germany, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, and the Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel, and will attend a roundtable discussion at the Frankfurt Archeological Museum about Arctic exploration.

In Berlin, May Simon will visit the Humboldt Forum, a museum of non-European art which houses numerous Canadian artefacts, including two Indigenous totem poles from the West Coast.

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The Frankfurt Book Fair is the largest book fair for trading in publishing rights and licenses, ranging from children’s books and novels to scientific databases. Every year, they select a country to be the Guest of Honour, a role in which nations can promote their literature and culture at the fair.

Canada was originally planned to be the Guest of Honour at the 2020 Frankfurt Book Fair, but in light of the pandemic, it was extended until the 2021 fair.

The Canada Council for the Arts and Canadian Heritage created a program for this year’s book fair to incentivize the purchase of translation rights of Canadian works for publishing in German. It covers some of the costs for German publishers if they wish to translate and publish a Canadian literary work.

The slogan for the program is ‘Singular Plurality’, which is inspired by Canada’s diversity.

“[It] will focus on innovation in creative industries, the promotion of women and youth, and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples,” the release stated.

May Simon will attend the opening ceremonies of the book fair as well as the opening of the Canadian pavilion.

Her first formal public appearance as Governor General occurred a week before this international visit, when May Simon met staff and volunteers to help hand out hot meals at a homeless shelter in Ottawa.

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With files from the Canadian Press

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